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Getting Arrested

I had a friend in my twenties that had a knack for getting himself arrested. As a rule-follower, child of immigrants and an immigrant, getting arrested is something I try to avoid. The only run-ins I had with the law was getting speeding tickets; and that was painful enough. For him, he wore that fact with pride. 

You see, he was getting himself arrested for his beliefs. He felt like he had a responsibility to stand with people who were being ignored; he felt like he had a responsibility to highlight injustices that were unknown by most people. He participated in protests and sit-ins. He marched against abuses of power and policies that negatively impacted the environment and the powerless in our county and in other countries. He was critical about things that I take for granted. He was knowledgeable on issues that weren't reported. He was personally affected by issues that really didn’t change the reality of his life. He is a Christian, so he felt like it was his responsibility to care. 

While I looked at his behaviors with respect, I did not adopt any of his practices.

This belief meant that he bought secondhand clothes because he didn’t want his money to pay for child labor/slave labor and he wanted to reduce clothes that would otherwise go into landfills. He went dumpster diving, which meant he went to dumpster behind supermarkets where supermarkets threw out their expired food. He would collect food that he felt was still good but were thrown out because they were a day past the expiration date. He biked around everywhere because he cared about the environment. While I looked at his behaviors with respect, I did not adopt any of his practices.

With Jesus as our model, we are told that Christians are supposed to care about those that are ignored, suffering and vulnerable. Over and over in the Gospels, Jesus demonstrated he cared. He went out of his way to care about the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). He went there specifically to meet her and have a conversation with her. He felt compassion for the harassed crowds (Matthew 9:36), for the sick (Matthew 14:14), the hungry (Matthew 15:32), the blind (Matthew 20:34), the leper (Mark 1:41), and the demon-possessed (Mark 9:22). He didn’t just feel sad about people who were suffering. He responded to those who were at the end of their ropes. Jesus placed the bar high when he asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to act as if we are the people who are intimately affected by the injustices and pains of the world. 

we are to care at a level that mimics if we were personally suffering at that level. 

If you are sick in the hospital; how would you want to be cared for? If you were sold as bonded labor because you owed money to the money lender, how would you wish to be helped? If you work full time but still don’t make enough money to provide for your family, what kind of law do you wish was there to protect you? If you were treated with disrespect or targeted because of your accent, religion or race, how would you wish someone would stand up for you? If you or your family’s life was in danger and you try to leave your country, how would you want to be treated as a refugee? If you were a farmer who can’t sell his crop for a fair price or can’t grow as he used to because of the changing weather patterns or the high cost of fertilizers, what would you wish could happen both at a micro level and macro level? As Christians we may not agree on the strategy of how to resolve it, but we are to care at a level that mimics if we were personally suffering at that level. 

Back then my friend was getting himself arrested by the Washington DC police, because if he was in that situation, he would want someone to speak up for him. These days when I go to a restaurant, I tip a little bit more. When someone I know is sick in the hospital, I make the time to visit (even though life is busy and I have to force myself to go). When I have people working for me, I pay more and take the time to understand how they are doing. When I am working on a project about illegal deforestation that causes flash floods for communities, I think about how to use my networks and connections to elevate their cause so that the people who sit in places of power can intervene on their behalf. Many times, I am lazy and self-centered. But I really try to think, how would I want someone to care about me if I was in their shoes.

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash



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