Monday, September 15, 2008

No Middle Ground?

I'm trying to get back into blogging again. I enjoy it, I just don't make a priority of it. Maybe if I did more narrative of my day I would, but I don't know that that's the direction of my blog life anymore. Sometimes things inspire me to make blog entries. Someone might say that my blogging about things rather than talking about them/confronting them head on is hiding online, but I don't necessarily think so. I think that some people need the screen for their own confidence; there are those not confident enough to stir pots online, or disagree online. There are others who are not confident enough to do either of those things in person. I think that being able to speak - in any capacity, even if it doesn't involve a face-to-face confrontation - should be applauded more than criticized. I do, however, think that there's a difference between speaking online (such as commenting on something posted in a public area or writing a response to something in your own area) and being passive aggressive by doing things like writing things directed at someone unnamed but using "you" repeatedly and then not sharing with them. This talk about speaking, however, isn't the point of this entry. It's just something on my mind.
This entry was inspired by a blog entry I read elsewhere this morning while cleaning out my Gmail inbox, although I'm sure it's made countless other places throughout time. One of the issues the author addressed had to do with for/against things - if you're not against something you're for it. I'm not entirely certain how I feel about that statement, although my initial reaction is that there isn't a whole lot of room for grey, I like shades of grey, and my worldview doesn't force me to see things in black-and-white. But then grey: the author tempers the statement to say that if you aren't working against something you are, if nothing else, passively working toward it. Tacitly approving, as it were. I greatly agree with that. To allow something bad to happen when you bear at least a small part of responsibility (like being the citizen of the US ergo the vote and keeping those elected responsible) is to not be working against it. I don't know that I'd say that it's "for," but it's not using voice to keep things from happening.
With that in mind I have some examples for people to think about, particularly those who say "I never did _____." By being in the US (and these will mostly be US examples since that's my primary context) we bear responsibility for things that we ourselves have never directly done. We also bear responsibility for not using our voice to change things that can be changed (while other things really can't be changed: what's done is done in some instances). Allowing the continued dehumanization of the US's indigenous peoples by sports teams and allowing the US to continue to not uphold a single treaty it's signed over the course of it's history with those same people is our fault. Were we signers? Did we elect the people who signed them? No, probably neither. Are we citizens now? Is the US still bound to its word? Do we have a way to ask the US to keep its word? Yes, we do. We elect. We can lobby. We can vote a different way.
We are guilty of whenever the US bombs innocent people just to make a point or to make things move more quickly. Certainly there are times when our rules of engagement allow or require fire to be returned to places that should be left alone (such as mosques), but if the people currently being opposed are using that as a base and are firing for it, I certainly see a rationale for returning fire. Air strikes against hospitals full of civilians, though, leads to guilt of a corporate nature for a corporate sin.  Are we giving the orders? Maybe not. Did we play a part in a)electing the Commander in Chief b)letting our elected officials (some of whom have oversight of the armed forces via committees, funding, and war resolutions) know how we feel about things? Maybe, maybe not. Either way we have a part to play and responsibility to bear.
Is there no middle ground? I don't think so. In case that's unclear (which I think it might be to me), I think there is a middle ground, however I think it's hard to maintain staying in the middle ground and still being an active part in society. If there isn't, whoa nelly. We, particularly those who were told to feed the hungry and care for the poor all around, have a whole lot of corporate guilt behind for not fighting it. If there's not a middle ground, the people who aren't fighting for poverty - are actually supporting it and saying that those on the margins of society should stay there (often so that they don't have to share). However, I do think there's a middle ground. I don't dare suggest that the majority of people not working to alleviate poverty support it. By the same token, though, by not working for its eradication I think they - we - are (if only nominally) guilty of allowing it to persist
As an aside, I was published today in Faith in Action, the weekly e-newsletter of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society. The piece can be found here.

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