Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Suburbia vs. Social Justice

Doug Hayes, head of Covenant Mercies (a “non-profit organization established for the purpose of serving the poor, the orphan, the widow, and others facing severe adversity") writes on suburbia and social justice:

Living in suburbia can lead to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality toward the poor. We’re pretty comfortable and typically pretty busy, so it’s easy to forget that our experience is not shared by many – even most – people in the world. We need to develop what Gary Haugen calls compassion permanence: the capacity to remember the needs of those who are suffering due to injustice, multi-generational poverty, disease, calamity, etc., even when they are out of our immediate sight.

Those of us who live in suburbia can sometimes feel a pang of guilt for the comfortable lives we lead in comparison to the world’s poor. While I wouldn’t want to douse any legitimate conviction of the Holy Spirit, I don’t believe the Lord wants us be motivated by guilt. Could God be calling some of us to forsake the suburban lifestyle and “incarnate” with the poor, taking up residence with those who are marginalized in our world? Absolutely. Is he calling all of us to do that? Probably not. The great majority of believers who live in suburbia are called to remain right where they are, but to develop a compassion permanence that leads us to remember the poor even though they are not immediately before our eyes day after day.

To see his suggestions for cultivating "compassion permanence" read the whole thing.