Saturday, November 17, 2007

Social Awareness….Or something like it

Being away from the college campus scene of rallies, causes, speeches and general activisms has been something I have greatly missed. There was always something to be made aware of, to discuss and to fight for. There still is, its just now I have to hunt for them myself and make the extra effort to seek out groups and events that rally the cause of the poor, the abused, the sick and those in need. On my church website I found a group titled Social Awareness with a number to call for more information on what the group does and how I can become involved.

The short conversation I had with one of the group’s leaders was more than disappointing. A well spoken and no doubt caring individual, I instantly got a whiff of what the groups main issues were: Gay Rights and Abortion. I in no way take either of these issues lightly but I would also say social awareness expands far beyond these two issues. I was also disheartened to learn that there would be only two meetings of the members, once in the fall and once in the spring. Wanting to expand and not be judgmental I asked to be signed up for the group newsletter and hoped that this group would provide a learning and active experience.

Over the past three weeks I have received many group emails predominantly concerning themselves with the same two issues. I also took the time to look up one or two of the organizations suggested and used as news sources. FAMILY VALUES and PRESIDENT BUSH are the first two things to jump out at me. Need I say more on that?

Last week I took the time to email the group leader with a few organizations I too gather news from. Sojourners was top of that list. The body of the email went as follows:

“…As your welcoming email said, I would like to suggest a few websites/organizations to possibly consider for future information or social issues to address. I am wondering if issues such as homelessness, domestic abuse, HIV/AIDS and poverty will be addressed in future sessions and perhaps including an international focus as well….Thanks for listening and considering the organizations listed.”

My list of organizations to consider:
God's Politics Blog
Jubilee Economics Ministry-
Christian Peacemaker Teams-
Evangelicals for Social Action-

The response I received was this:
“ Thank you for your interest in what social awareness @ XXXXXXXX is doing. ……Also, we do find alot of interest in a variety of social issues facing Christians around the globe, our nation & our community. For the sake of focused impact, we are educating our church body & community about social issues that they can become involved in. We know that we cannot be all things to all people. Our mission is to educate & equip our body to respond. We will take your suggestions into consideration.”

Let me first say that the respondent was very polite and good to respond to my blatant point at more liberal or progressive organizations. But what I would like to know is how homelessness, domestic abuse, HIV/AIDS and poverty do not effect Christians and how they don’t effect them right in our own communities or why we can not become involved in such issues?!

A few days later I was ‘invited’ or asked really to an “interview”. This seemed not only weird to me but intimidated me very much. Ideally I thought we would meet at a local coffee shop and talk about poverty, issues that were close to our hearts and how our faith gives us passion and calling to act on injustice. But instead I met this very nice, very polite person at her house and was literally interviewed. I never felt at ease during the 30 minutes I spent sitting across from her at the kitchen table. I felt as if I was being weeded out of an exclusive conservative group to which I, a clear liberal, could not to truly be apart of. The interviewer was never rude, never accusatory but not quite genuine ( I felt) in truly discussing issues or learning about who I was and why. At one point I was asked who I thought were some of the top human rights violators. I answered with the first country I thought of and knowing it would be some what surprising or unsettling for the person sitting across from me and because that country is thought of way to highly by its citizens. I said the U.S. and went on to list a few other countries I could think of under pressure of performance. When I failed to mention the ‘Axes of Evil’ countries they were quickly pointed out to me.

I left the house with what I can only describe as an unsettling feeling. I was disappointed. I have little to no desire to be heavily involved in this group that at first seemed to hold such promise.