Last week, I ended by asking how we use our status in the world to create a more humane world. How do we, consciously or unconsciously, contribute to the inhumanity in the world? How do we try to avoid and deny responsibility for our place in creating a more humane world for all of humanity?
We have this tendency in our culture to blame people for not having achieved as much or done as well as others. We see things at an individual level and rarely look at the systemic forces that make it more difficult for some to achieve or have access to what seems within the grasp of others. Rather than be willing to critically look at these issues and the ways they are embedded within larger institutions and systems of injustice and inequality, people tend to try to get off the hook by denying and/or minimizing the situation or blaming the situation on the “victim.”
There are other ways, that as individuals, people try to get off the hook and avoid treating others more humanely. One thing that people try to do is to call it something else. Rather than name the injustice behind what is happening in a situation, people will search for alternate explanations as to why a situation exists. Some people might argue it is actually better this way or that the oppressed group actually prefers it this way. Often times, people might mask their inhumanity behind humor or claims of innocence, saying I didn’t mean it. There is this belief that by saying that, it wipes away the injustice and inhumanity of what is said or done. Others believe that the reason bad things happen to people is that they are just bad people. Whether intentional or not, each of these behaviors contributes to the inhumane treatment of others.
I am not sure that there is an easy answer as to how we become more humane in our treatment of others. One of the first steps has to be our willingness to get on the hook. We must become committed, obliged, and involved in working with others to create a more humane world. We can begin by doing what so many of the world’s spiritual leaders have done and acknowledge there are people in need in this world. We can begin by paying attention to what is going on in the world and being present. We can begin by stepping out of the comfort zones of our own social locations and educating ourselves about the view from other social locations.
A second step must be our willingness to do something. We must stop waiting for someone to ask us to do something; Jesus did not wait for an invitation to get involved. He saw people who were in need and he ministered to them where they were. We must be willing to step off the path of least resistance and make sacrifices in our lives out of compassion and solidarity with other members of God’s family. We must be like the Dalai Lama and be willing to speak up and speak out. We must refuse to buy into the silence. Abusers pray for our silence. Individual abusers pray for our silence. Systematic abusers pray for our silence. We must be willing to transform our silence into language and action. After all, isn’t this what Jesus did best. He constantly broke the silences that kept people hungry, thirsty, naked, estranged, sick, and imprisoned and he used his words and his actions to bring about change.
Each day, people, personal relationships, religious groups, and nations are being shattered through intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutionalized acts of inhumanity. We are called to be agents of reconciliation; however, it is often hard to know where to begin. In the June newsletter, I offered this quote as a starting place, “If you want a better WORLD, Composed of better NATIONS, Inhabited by better STATES, Filled with better COUNTIES, Made up of better CITIES, Comprised of better NEIGHBORHOODS, Illuminated by better CHURCHES, Populated with better FAMILIES, Then you have to start by becoming a better PERSON.” 
For me, one of the most significant aspects of the relationship between religious and spiritual institutions and the public is the intentionality of the interactions. Are our institutions teaching others how to walk the path of least resistance and contributing to the maintenance of the status quo in society? Or are we as spiritual leaders being intentional about creating opportunities for people from diverse groups to build bridges and open lines of communication. Are we intentional about our efforts to expose people to different truths, different realities, and different experiences of life? Are we intentional about speaking out publicly about legislation that privileges one group over another? Are we intentional about letting everything we do be about building monuments of peace, monuments of love, and monuments of justice?
We have a commitment to doing all we can to fight passive and active inhumanity in this world. As a spiritual leader, I can work to create an environment in which people can empower themselves to be more involved publicly in fighting injustice. I can model behaviors that illustrate how we can be working in coalition with others in fighting injustices. I can represent the Infinite in working as an ally with groups that are being marginalized and disempowered by societal norms and regulations. I can write blogs that provide new insights into contemporary social issues and challenge my readers to get involved.
Restoring humanity, involves two steps: a commitment by those in and out of the “church” to working with those who have experienced inhumanity and a commitment to working to dismantle the legacy of the inhumanity. We cannot do anything about the legacy we have inherited, but we can do something about the legacy we pass down to the next generation. The move from humanity in theory to humanity in practice is not easy work. Humanity in practice entails individuals who are willing to do the self-reflective and difficult emotional work internally. It requires groups of individuals who recognize the work and healing, which needs to be done is long term, not short term and it is not going to happen over night. It requires people to not only change themselves but to change the way they actively confront discrimination and inhumanity in daily life. While none of this is easy work, as with all attempts to embrace the Infinite Presence in daily life, the rewards in our lives and the lives of those we are engaged with is great.
 Church of the Nazarene, Ideas for building an inclusive church http://www.multiculturalministries.org/creative.html