A Place of Understanding

This past Tuesday, Lighthouse held an adapted “Stations of the Cross” service during which we listened to music and read scripture that depicted the series of events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.  The station that really caught my interest was the seventh: Jesus is judged by Pilate.  More specifically, Matthew 27:24 stood out to me: “24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’”  At this point in the service, we washed our hands, not to claim innocence as Pilate did, but to remind ourselves that to be aware of an injustice and do nothing is also blameworthy because it allows for that injustice to continue.  I firmly believe this and it’s easy to hate on Pilate for not taking a stand, but I wonder if I would have done much differently in his situation.  I’ve never faced an angry mob before and I think that it’s safe to say that I probably never will.  We all know, however, that injustice comes in more forms than in angry mobs.  So the question becomes ‘Am I able to recognize injustice and when I can, what do I do about it?’

As someone who is less outspoken and tends to avoid conflict like the plague, I’ve often wondered whether I would have the courage to stand up for what I believe to be right.  I looked at activists and campaigners and worried that I was not doing enough to fight injustice.  It took me a while to realize that there is more than one way to respond to injustice.  Yes, outspoken activists can be important and even necessary when it comes to making change happen but I don’t have to be one in order to make a difference.

During my four years at Puget Sound, I have found a passion for quiet conversation and understanding.  I love learning about religion, history, tradition, and how they influence an individual’s social interactions, values and more.  It is from this passion that I have come to believe that at the roots of many injustices are misconceptions and misunderstandings.  Too often, people see a difference and assume that it is wrong without making any effort to understand it.  I have found that when I put my pride aside and listen to others, I am able to see and respond to my own misconceptions.  On the other hand, I am also better able to voice my own opinions to someone I disagree with when I have a sense of why they feel the way they do.

I admit that conversation alone will not solve everything.  Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where proactive action is necessary (like when dealing with angry mobs) and I hope that I will have the courage to take a stand if ever in one of those situations.  It is also true that for big change to occur there need to be people who will take a stand for what is right.  I have also found, however, that when I make an effort to listen to and understand those that I disagree with, they almost always return the favor.  Though it is much more subtle and the difference it makes may not be as obvious, I believe that dialogue has an important role in the fight against injustice.

Want to talk about this post (or anything else for that matter)?  Join me at my next coffee hour!  Wednesday, April 18th at 12pm in Oppenheimer.