What can I do?    

One Man's Web > Politics and Ethics > Australia and the refugees >  What can I do?
Posted  Jan 2 2005

A small, personal reflection on justice and politics for the little person who is not an activist by nature.

It is hard not to be disillusioned.  An eye for justice can see so much wrong in the world, it is difficult not to give up, or to lapse into a hatred of the powers that be, and perhaps be vocal, but really do nothing.  These few pages of mine.... the coverage is thin.  There are many better and comprehensive sites of commentary.  People write more persuasively than I, some even have funding.  So should I continue? What can I do to be more effective politically and socially?

Peter Russell says:

There are many roads less travelled, unpopular or neglected issues, seeming lost causes, at home and abroad that demand social justice. As with charities it would be impossible to support them all.
But if each person passionately supported one just cause the face of this world would be changed.

With one caution, this is the place to begin.  Let me give my time to an issue in a way that is effective. Let me not be so aware and hand-wringing about so many things, that I am able to be no good in any of them.  The caution is; I think I must always seek to practice justice in any situation.  I have an interest in refugees, but that does not excuse me from speaking up, or at least refusing to laugh, at a mean, prejudicial joke about a gay person.  The saying goes that we should think globally and then act locally in the light of that thinking.  Our sense of justice should be "global" even though we may put our main energy into one area. I fear that if I do not maintain a "global" sense of justice, then the "one cause" I do support will be compromised.  The blindness of one area will creep into, and veil, my view of another.  To put it another way, how can I be seeking justice for refugees and yet be unjust, or a cheat in the place where I work?

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there is a saying: Think globally, act locally. The world in which we live is global.  We do not live isolated.  We cannot ignore the insights and happenings of other parts of the world.  They impinge on us.  Few of us will have an obvious global influence; I will never be a Tutu or a Mandela.  But their insights may enlighten what I am doing in my street.

As well as knowing, I should do.  For some, it is too easy to act first, and hard to stop and think.  My kind of personality wants to have all bases covered, and to know all the details, and then act... eventually.  The temptation is to spend too long researching, to be too cautious in acting, and to accidentally end up doing nothing!  And so, knowing what little I do, and having too few answers, I repair old computers, find software for them, and give them to a friend who takes them to the prison at Baxter.  It is little enough.  But it is something.   In writing to politicians, I do not have all the answers, or all the arguments.  But at least they hear that people are concerned.  For some, that is a gift. Some of our politicians feel very alone in their struggle for justice.

There is something about working with others.  I am an individualist. I am not good at friends.  I have trouble trusting.  But it is in a group that I find support.  It is from the group that computers come.  It is those others who take the computers in, even though it is not an option for me to go up to Baxter.  The group provides me with insights, greater wisdom, sources of information, and encouragement.

As an obsessive, it is hard to find the time. Unlike my wife who can watch TV, read a magazine and knit at the same time, I can only do one thing at a time.  I obsess on that.  If I am working on the website, when can I learn that ASP programming, and when can I find time to fix another computer, or to mow the lawns or support my family?  On Monday every second week, I go out with a small group of friends. It is a special time; nothing else is given the second Mondays.  Perhaps Wednesday night should be computer night on the first week, and letter night on the second.  An audit of how I spend time can be revealing.  Do I really need three nights of TV?  Is there better relaxation than TV, which would be more recreating and energising for Wednesday nights?

In the end I must be true to myself.  If I really believe this:
To ignore politics is to ignore life.  To ignore politics, or worse, simply support the status quo, is antithetical to the Christian Faith.  Christ critiques all culture.  How can we as his followers do less, or fail to follow him in his defence of the poor and dispossessed. Christians who say we should avoid politics have missed the basics of their faith and live a lie each time they vote or declare an opinion in their own assembly. then I must find a way to act it out.


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