Glenn offers an atheist perspective on the issue of social justice. His post is in response to Who Should Challenge the Lions and Wolves?.
By Glenn Burgess (BEA Guest Writer)
(originally posted here)
“People are called to do justice as an extension of perspective faiths – in my case, Christianity. This is not a secondary suggestion that the Lord gives to an elite few in order to counteract the bad behavior of some. God is not providing it as an optional pursuit in case we bore ourselves with the day to day requirements of Christian life.” – AnaYelsi Sanchez
I do not believe people are called to ensure justice for others as an extension of faith. I believe this is an extension of being a human being. As an atheist, there is no book by which I live my life. I don’t have a suggestion sheet with a handy 10 tips to make you a good person. What I do have is something uniquely human, and that is an extremely strong sense of empathy. Religion does not teach you this. Your upbringing, while it can encourage it, does not teach you this. It is in you from the moment you’re conscious. This is what calls you to action.
When we make excuses for allowing the call to do justice to fall on the backs of others we are in the wrong. We utter cliches.
“God simply didn’t give me the gifts or skills to deal with stuff like that.”
“The Lord is calling me to something else and I’ve decided to put my focus there.”
I don’t wish to belittle anyone’s beliefs here, and I’m certainly not implying that AnaYelsi herself acts like this, but I have noticed where many of the current generations of Christians express their faith improperly and it acts against their ability to affect action and justice. Namely in the way of prayer. Where people of past generations would pray for a lesson to give them strength, now people seem to simply pray their trials to be over. Much in the same way, where people would previously pray for the wisdom to act in the face of injustice, they would now just pray for injustice not to exist. This seems to give the easy way out of, “it was God’s will,” or, “only God knows why this happened.” Whether you’re of faith or not, you have to earn your strength. The only difference is the theory of where it comes from.
By the very nature of atheism, we believe the only person who can act is us. There’s no saved games, no check points, no do-overs, no redemption, no forgiveness. You get one shot and if you don’t do it right you have to live with it.
While this is quickly becoming a debate of morals rather than justice, I have no desire to make it such. I love all my friends no matter who they are or what they choose to believe. My point is not to offend, but rather to give another view. I believe everyone is responsible for seeing justice is done throughout the world. Regardless if you’re a person of faith, a man, a woman, rich or poor, it’s said that character is who you are and what you do when no one else is looking, and I whole-heartedly believe that to be true.
There is one last thing I would like to add. The lions and wolves aren’t people. They are something a great deal more dangerous. An idea. A mindset. As such, your inaction directly enables their actions. By doing nothing, you embody the very concept that allows injustice to thrive. As the title here suggests, you’re either with us or with them.
You can find Glenn Burgess Here: