Oblivious About the Rights of Others

Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr. first launched the idea in the last months of his life, this past week saw the kickoff of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, starting with an initial 40-day period of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. Described as “a moral fusion coalition that is multi-racial, multi-gendered, intergenerational, inter-faith and constitutionally grounded,” it shares King’s commitment to fighting the “Triplets of Evil”-systemic racism, poverty, and the war economy and militarism-but adds the interrelated problem of ecological devastation. Paul Rosenberg writing for Salon.com

Over the years, I have heard hundreds of newly-minted progressive activists wish they could have marched with Dr. King. Now we have a chance to get involved in the battle for equality, and I find most whites are as oblivious this time around as they were the first. We are oblivious to systemic racism, crushing poverty, and, without the draft, even the prospect of war and the militarism that is consuming our national budget and priorities.

I will speak next month to a group about racism in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and questioning community. I must confess my long-time frustration with my community’s belief that people of color should be our allies in procuring and defending our civil liberties. Why do we assume this? LGBTQ people are all too rarely seen when people of color are fighting for their lives, let alone their rights. When hundreds of thousands of people marched through downtown Dallas for immigrant rights several years ago, it was easy to find another family from our church because that family and mine were almost the only pale faces there. Why?

What kind of rank narcissism is it to care only about your own rights or the rights of your own community? It would be like Jesus taking that little boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fishes to feed himself and the 12 disciples, and then sitting down to eat in front of 5,000 hungry people. We who follow Jesus must repent of our self-absorbed temptation and THEN prove that we are serious about our discipleship by rolling up our sleeves and getting involved in the fight for the rights of others as vigorously as we do our own.


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