Friday 19 March 2010

No more shackles

Freedom and liberty lose out by default because good people are not vigilant

You would think that today slavery is a thing of the past, like this long disused and forgotten shackle by the side of the old cobblestoned wharf. Not so. You would think that in an enlightened and progressive society abuse of children and vulnerable adults would be unthinkable. Not so. You would think that extremist politics fuelled by race hatred and supremacist views ended with the Holocaust. Not so. You would think that the church is a safe space in which those in positions of authority and oversight have your best interests at heart. Not so. Experience suggests otherwise.

Paedophile priests in the Catholic Church, the odious policies of the BNP, the deaths of Khyra Ishaq and Baby Peter, and the continuing sex trafficking of women and exploitation of foreign workers all give a loud and clear “Not so”.

Desmond Tutu is absolutely right: good people need to be vigilant.

Look closely and you will discover that the shackles of exploitation and control are never too far away.

So when freedom and liberty are imperilled and innocent people are in jeopardy what are we supposed to do? The Bible takes an interventionist line, as in the story of Moses which unfolds through the opening chapters of the Book of Exodus. Faced with the slavery and mistreatment of his own people, there is no room for misunderstanding what God requires of Moses. Get stuck in and put it right.

Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:9-10)

Moses and Aaron went and spoke to Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go” (Exodus 5:1)

As disciples of Jesus we each have the God-given responsibility to be vigilant and engaged when it comes to the shackles of injustice, oppression and abuse at work in the world around us. As the road to calvary demonstrates, this is a costly vocation.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing

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