On Christianity Today, (not my favorite magazine), there was a real missionary, Rachel Pieh Jones, complaining about the ersatz Western social activist of today, who do their most piddly to advance the great causes of our times; who obtain the subjective satisfaction of making a difference without actually doing so; who celebrate with flag-waving and tee-shirt branding zealotry, without risk, effort, sacrifice and muddied feet.
In Nicholas Kristof’s documentary Half the Sky, actress Meg Ryan also thought she was doing her part to highlight child trafficking in Cambodia, but then declines to go on a brothel raid. She says she doesn’t have the “adventure” gene. I appreciate her honesty. I have less appreciation for her ignorance. What did she think fighting sex trafficking would be like, if not going to brothels themselves? Her reticence is symbolic of goodhearted people who have forgotten about risk.1
I could continue to wax poetic; except such equally fluff opprobrium would quickly self-direct. What did tickle my eclectic mind was her witticism “My beef was roaming Main Street yesterday”.
If my generation cares so deeply about global issues of justice and poverty that they are willing to change eating, clothing, and living habits, where are they? A significant challenge for nonprofits and ministries remains recruiting people who will commit to serve long-term outside the United States.1
I have heard similar complaints by church missionaries about the loss of commitment and courage by increasingly effeminate Western Christians. I myself would (and am available to) go into the field except as long as it wasn’t France. And although I might be willing to go to Islamic countries; in that I am evidently opinionated, a cost/benefit analysis would likely deter the sponsoring agency from sending me there.
However, my problem with these para-Christian organizations is that they have waylaid their primary mission of transmitting the Gospel and Full Counsel of Christ; with the social beneficence as a handmaiden to support the central message. Instead, they have become just social services, adorned with god words. For me, the enduring benefit, even in this life, is found through becoming a conduit by which other people are changed from the inside out into eventual external and social manifestations.
- Rachel Pieh Jones, You Can’t Buy Your Way to Social Justice”, Christianity Today, May 14, 2013, accessed http://www.christianitytoday.com/thisisourcity/7thcity/you-cant-consume-your-way-to-social-justice.html on May 18, 2013.
2 thoughts on “Pseudo-Social Activism”
So because Meg did not Invade a brothel with the cops, she’s not doing her part?
I am merely quoting the missionary. I hope that you read the Christianity Today article and hear her heart. These are the front lines staff who face the evil head on, while the celebs bask in the glory at their galas. To raid a brothel would be a transformative experience, to be sure. Consider Roméo Dallaire and “Shake Hands with the Devil”. And evil will outlast good so long as good is timid and tepid in its response.