No to U.S airstrikes! Yes to aid and international sanctions!

Assad

Obama is more similar to Assad than he is to Martin Luther King Jr. Evidently, just because Obama is the first black president, it doesn’t make him the messiah. As the U.S administration sits on the edge of their seats waiting to strike down Assad’s hold on Syria, it just seems like there is going to be another justified trigger-happy invasion from the west into the Arab world (that will result in more civilian casualties not less).

Like his predecessor, Obama is a war criminal who has tortured and killed just as many civilians as Syria’s defiant president. Yet besides the fact that the U.S government is just as guilty of heinous war crimes as the Assad family’s 42 year reign, something needs to be done about the crisis in Syria. I’m not advocating for a U.S led airstrike nor am I advocating for a fully-fledged military invasion, but I am promoting the dire need for imminent and comprehensive humanitarian aid and the will to embrace democratic conversation for the sake of the Syrian people.

We live in an ultra-connected globalized age of human society, yet it is apparent that when suffering arises in our neighbouring countries, their sufferings don’t bother us until they actually ‘bother’ us. I’d like to think that the international community is one big-little neighbourhood; if that is the case then we need to find a staunch yet democratic way of stopping the crisis in Syria. Humanitarian aid needs to be at the precipice of discussions as well as the need for heavy international sanctioning upon the Assad regime. Hear me out, I’m not advocating for the ‘rebel forces’ (for they have also killed and displaced many civilians) but I am promoting a change in government in which the country’s authorities prize the wellbeing of its citizens above their own pride.

There needs to be a change in the political status quo of mapping the global community into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘us’ versus ‘them’, the ‘righteous’ as opposed to the ‘terrorists’. Then and only then can the international community galvanize past the sectarian categorization that prohibits truth, justice, human rights and the reciprocal accountability of living in a big-little neighbourhood.

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice and brotherhood.” – Martin Luther King Jr. 1961

Stuff international law, get into Syria and help the people

syria

The late ‘possibility’ of international intervention from Obama and Co. should not be seen as the heroic west coming to rescue the Syrian people from chemical weapons, rather it should be perceived in context as a ‘saving face’ tactic that could be likened to someone offering an amputee a band-aid…two years after the limb was cut! Indeed, the civil war didn’t magically begin a week ago; the Syrian people have been suffering since April 2011.

This was always a human rights and social justice issue, a concern that hasn’t been adequately addressed either by the Arab league, the European union or the United States. Over 100,000 people have died, over 4 million remain displaced within the boarders and over 2 million people (of which 1million are children) are displaced just outside the war torn country.

Due to international law, the UN Security Council (in spite of the mass killings that have occurred since 2011) are continuing to be overly PC about when to act with their pittance of a response. As UN weapons inspectors attempt to establish definitively whether or not chemical weapons have been used and by who; I would imagine the millions of Syrian civilians (in and just outside the boarders) are scratching their heads, thinking something along the lines of: “where have you guys been for the past two years?”

Stuff international law, for if the UN Security Council religiously abided by international law, then a lot of social atrocities would not be tolerated as they are (i.e. Australia’s economic neglect of their Aboriginal people; the Israeli apartheid government and their treatment of the Palestinian people; Canada’s land rape of the First Nation’s for oil; and the plight of Egypt’s civil turmoil). Evidently the people who make the rules don’t really stick to them, and when they do it is usually too late.

The Syrian people have been calling out for help for the past two years, if the international community is indeed one big diverse global family unified by human rights, then it’s about time we act like it. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Now is the time to act…for the people, for the people, for the people.

 

 

Criminalizing the homeless: A man named Harry

homeless-feet

Last Wednesday I met a man named Harry (pseudonym), sitting on Queen Street with no money. He didn’t bash me with the Bible, harass me with a petition, or eyeball me to donate towards a cause I don’t believe in. Actually, he never said a word to draw my attention.

Offering my hand towards his own I introduced myself and sat down beside his cup of coins. “How’s your week been bro?” So starts a conversation that neither myself nor he expected to receive on a cold Auckland morning.

45 minutes with a total stranger that I will forever remember as Harry.

The new by-law that essentially criminalizes beggars is a disgrace to democracy let alone what it means to live in society. Time, money, a listening ear, an attentive heart, and the will to see the humanity of another; we have forgotten what it means to encounter someone’s needs other than our own. I’m all for giving to charity, but you can go your whole life giving to charity and never see poverty humanized, incarnated, fleshed out, and needing help in the NOW. The new by-law has fundamentally killed the spirit of the Samaritan, just to justify the ignorance of the priest and the neglect of the Levite.

“People walk past…but they don’t see me… If someone just gave me a chance…” – Words that I will never forget.

Bob McKoskrie and hetero-phobia: The fear of people different from yourself

vote_McCoskrie

It is incredibly sad that even though today is a historic moment in New Zealand’s social history, there are still trolls trolling about ready to pounce on the fun and dampen the party. ‘Hetero-phobia’ can be described as the fear of something or someone different, and as Bob McKoskrie has shown yet again – trolls be trolling (http://bobmccoskrie.com/?p=9066).

McKoskrie’s creativity seems to be limited to stale boundaries of hyper-fundamentalism, in which apparently he holds the universal truth of the definition of marriage, in which he has and still does vehemently defend. The use of the Bible as an authoritative weapon of mass distraction obviously does more harm than good. Why, why, why do fundamental evangelicals continue to paint a violent, judgemental, racist, condemning and bigot of a Jesus? As the popular maxim goes, ‘what would Jesus do?’ It is obvious that the actions of the fundamental right differ extremely from the ethos of Jesus the liberator of the oppressed and healer of the broken. This reminds me of the passage in scripture when Jesus gave up his last breath and cried out “it is finished!” In which the curtain in the temple was torn in two, and the division that kept people from encountering God freely was done away with.

It seems to me that whether it has been slavery, colonization, segregation, apartheid, and now same-sex marriage – the Church has always been the one justifying the dehumanizing of ‘the other.’ One could say that throughout history, the Church has metaphorically taken the torn curtain and repaired it to once again separate people from fully encountering their humanity.

I beg of the so-called ‘defenders of THE definition of marriage’ – everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when it is discriminating against others then serious analysis needs to be considered. I’m no pastor or theologian but I think it’s pretty straight forward that Jesus’ message hung on two paradigms in which it seems dominant Church culture has neglected: LOVE God, and LOVE people. Difference is wonderful and should be celebrated.

Doubt saved my faith

a-new-kind-of-christianity

Last week I was ready to give up on the story of Jesus, a story that is dominated by an individualist, environmentally negligent, hell evasive, and dualistic worldview. I began doubting and questioning my faith and whether the good news was actually ‘good’ let alone relevant to society. So I started reading this book – ‘a new kind of Christianity’ – and it pretty much ‘saved’ me from the contempt I had for the gospel according to mainstream evangelicalism, replacing it with a realization that the good news of Jesus’ kingdom is far more authentic and holistic than the lines that Church norms conform it to reside within. This existential epiphany was then solidified twice today in both a morning and night service at an emergent Church aptly named ‘the edge’. Indeed tonight I feel renewed and hungry to live out my love for the Jesus of the kingdom of God; a kingdom in which social justice, the environment, economic equity,  and a faith of doubting (wondering) is intimately important to the God of all creation.

The reason why the Church doesn’t give two hoots about social responsibility

OCCUPY JESUS P

Mainstream evangelicalism (dominant church culture) is embedded with a dualistic philosophy that denies the relevance of social justice now. This platonic theology relegates the earth to a sinking ship in which the only solution is to rush every individual onto the life raft of Jesus. As the world/matter and heaven/spirit are platonically opposing, ‘saving souls’ takes precedence over social responsibility. In a way one could term conversion as the only ‘social responsibility’ of the Church. Indeed if what really “matters is the soul, then thinking about the way socio-economic, material structures and institutions shape people is hardly important” (Sider, 2012, p. 3).

Socio-political concerns are labelled as irrelevant in a dying world, in which the only thing that matters is escaping “this world and its problems by going to heaven after death” (McLaren, 2007, p. 21). This dualism cements the Church’s main goal; which is the salvation of every soul through personal conversion (being born-again). Sider (2012) indicates how this perspective encourages personal conversion over social transformation – accordingly social problems would apparently disappear “if everyone were converted to personal faith in Christ” (Sider, 2012, p. 2).

Social responsibility should be crucially important to mainstream evangelicalism as it was a key message of Jesus’ ministry. The individualistic philosophy of dualism has silhouetted the socially inept gospel of evangelical culture. The gospel has ceased to create transformation and liberation, and has instead become a spiritual message of societal distraction (p. 29), in which the only things that matter is individual souls going to heaven and the accumulation of personal blessings in the meantime. Mainstream evangelicalism denies the relevance of social responsibility, even though societal concern and transformation is at the heart of the kingdom of God.

Works Cited

McLaren, B. (2007). Everything must change: When the world’s biggest problems and Jesus’ good news collide. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Sider, R. (2012). Evangelical advocacy: a response to global poverty. Evangelicals and structural injustice, 1-5.

 

 

 

27th July 2013 AKLD: First protest experience was mean as

Death to the GCSB2

Yesterday my wife and I joined hundreds of others at Aotea Square (and later down Queen Street) to protest against the growing right-wing politics of the National govt. and friends. Unity simmered throughout the afternoon air as it was apparent that a whole lot of NZ citizens disagreed with the new powers that will be granted to the GCSB. It was a great experience that gave the impression, that come 2014 many New Zealanders will be voting with a conscience; a mindfulness of a societal revolution that would swing the country away from the Empire of the Right. It was our first experience of protesting for our democratic and human rights. One day, when we have grandchildren, we can say; ‘when the nation marched against the GCSB in 2013, your nana and koro were there.