I am a student of history and of people. I am fascinated in studying how people think about any particular event or action. Recently, I have discovered a documentary on Netflix entitled The Seven-Five. It is a gritty tale of how cops, those sworn to serve and protect, ended up running drugs for Columbian drug lords. The interesting highlight in the documentary is seeing the evolution of those involved. Cops did not go from good to bad overnight. It was a process. Now, the process occurred quicker for some than others, but it was no doubt a process.
We even see this process when it comes to Nazis Germany prior to World War 2. There was a slow process in indoctrinating the German people. Goebbels’s propaganda worked tirelessly on the German people. His effort was to dehumanize the Jewish population. After all if they are dehumanized as vermin, then it is easier to deal viciously with them. It was a process, and sadly it worked.
In David Welsh’s complex work, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, he looks at the build up to the ugly policy which led to a horrible discriminatory policy of the minority which affected the Afrikan majority in South Africa. For Welsh, the policy came about through a series of events that ended in massive discrimination. Apartheid was a process that did not happen overnight, but it was a drama that unfolded possibly fifty years prior to its incarnation.
As I look at the ugliness of Apartheid, I am gripped with the realities in which we live today. It is quite simplistic to cast off ideas such as the Apartheid or the Holocaust as outliers. Most people would emphatically state that such things could never happen here in the West. Yet, I feel somehow that the West, Europe and America, is in the middle of a drama that has yet to have been completed. There is so much vitriolic language and open hatred within the atmosphere. The west is like a flooded lake pushing against its dam. I am somewhat concerned that the dam will break and we will be flooded before we know it.
Evil comes about through a process. It comes about when we demonize another side so much that they no longer are human and without a soul. We see it everywhere. Liberals demonize conservatives and their values. Conservatives demonize liberals. We vilify illegals, muslims, gays, the police, the African American population and probably many more.
Now, this may sound preachy, but I think at the heart (at least in America) some of these things are happening because the church has lost its prophetic voice in the land. We have given the reigns over to the media, the politician, and we hope that we will somehow be saved from having to speak up in this hostile environment.
Apartheid, holocausts, racism, and slavery all rule the day when the church refuses to be a prophetic voice and speak when injustice is done. In Luke 4, Jesus states:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus came to right the wrongs done in the world. It first started with redeeming us from the curse of sin, but in his earthly ministry, he also helped to right the wrongs done in an oppressed society. The church needs speak up to right the wrongs as well. We must speak up when people are oppressed, when injustice runs rampant and when pain is on the march despite the color of skin, hijab, gender, or sexual orientation.