Whose issue?

Whose issue?

City streets are filling with demonstrators on behalf of black and indigenous victims of police brutality, and against racism generally.

But I’m not BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or a Person Of Colour). So is this really my issue?

Decades ago when Christian churches were debating whether women could properly preach and pastor, I remember the debate was often labeled “the women’s issue.”

But I wasn’t a woman. So was it really my issue?

Martin Luther King, Jr., had it right when he refused to identify his cause as the furtherance of the interests of black people in the United States. Instead, he stoutly maintained that he was contending for civil rights, not just black rights, on behalf of all Americans, not just black Americans.

We all win when we all win.

Racism and civil rights are indeed my issues.

The feminist leaders I admire most have always maintained that they were not campaigning only for the rights and dignity of women, but for the equal treatment of all human beings and the full cooperation of all people in our common life. The T-shirt slogan had it exactly right no matter who was wearing it: “This is what a feminist looks like.”

We all win when we all win.

Sexism and gender equality are indeed my issues.

So far as I know, I have no aboriginal ancestry. But I am not just an “ally” of indigenous people in Canada in their struggle to be treated properly by Canadian governments, Canadian police forces, and Canadians in general. I am a Canadian citizen who wants my country to act justly. I have a stake in this struggle, too.

We all win when we all win.

Colonialism and fair dealing with First Nations are indeed my issues.

Or do we really think we can ignore the poor, the addicted, the disabled, the disoriented, the marginalized, the disdained, and the oppressed—and not pay a huge price in social friction, crime, safety, medical bills, prison costs, and massive wastage of human potential? And not have our souls corrode and implode into tiny, self-centred vacuums?

These street demonstrations—and, indeed, the riots that have sometimes ensued—are just the flare-ups of the dysfunction and despair that blight so many Canadian lives and seethe just beneath the surface of “normal” life. They are exacting from all of us, all the time, a toll we are just now glimpsing in these days of open unrest.

To be sure, each of us can’t usefully attend to every one of these problems with equal intensity. We each must pursue our particular calling from God to make a difference in this or that zone of concern.

Some of us will be drawn to help eradicate child poverty in Canada—or whatever country we’re in. (How canthere still be child poverty in Canada?)

Some of us will want to ensure that clean water is available to all Canadians, and especially to the many reserves that still lack it. (How can there still be Canadians who don’t have clean water?)

Some of us will fight against sexual harassment in the workplace. (How can there still be Canadians enduring sexual harassment?)

Some of us will strive to treat addicts with understanding and care. (How can so many Canadians still be left to suffer and die on our streets simply as “losers” and “weaklings”?)

Some of us will go to war against “sex work” and the sex trafficking that facilitates it. (How can so many Canadians remain indifferent to the horrors surrounding prostitution?)

Some of us will engage systemic racism in our company, or church, or government service, or team. (How canCanadian institutions still routinely treat people worse simply because of their ethnicity?)

Some of us will tackle the gigantic disparity in, and concentration of, wealth in our society. (How canCanadians keep allowing so few to possess so much they have “earned” only in a badly tilted economy?)

What none of us can rightly do is…nothing—because “it’s not my issue.” Every single one of these issues is my issue, and yours.

That chirpy little COVID-19 slogan, “We’re all in this together”? It is certainly true about the pandemic. And it is certainly true about these other society-wide problems.

So pick one. And do something about it.

We all win when we all win.

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