An Invitation to Speak Out for Compassion and Against Hate
“So justice is driven back and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. God saw that there was no one. God was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so God’s own arm worked salvation...” —Isaiah 59: 14-16a (NRSV)
When Isaiah observed that, “justice has stumbled in the streets,” and, “truth is nowhere to be found,” he said that, “God was appalled.” At this time of rising vitriol, racism, hate and violence in our nation that is born of deep economic crisis and global shifts, we as directors of the Women’s Division invite you to join us in speaking out for peace and compassion. If we do not, God will be “appalled.”
We feel compelled to lead the women of this historic organization to raise a prophetic voice that challenges the climate of distrust, distortion of truth, and fear. Across our nation, the level of anger towards one another has crossed a line in terms of civility. Whatever the disagreement, this behavior is unacceptable.
The United States is in the midst of a deep economic crisis. National unemployment is at 10%. In communities of color and in some areas of the countries the unemployment rate is much higher. We have heard accounts from United Methodist Women members about job losses; reduction of work hours; bankruptcy due to lack of health care; foreclosures; declining wages; budget cuts to preschools and other critical social programs.
We acknowledge that there are valid reasons to be angry about the current status of our nation; however, we challenge the misdirection of this anger, particularly toward “others” who are also suffering from the current crisis.
As Christians we are called to be models of compassion. The United Methodist Social Principles affirm, “We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God… We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection….We deplore acts of hate and violence against groups or persons based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or economic status…” (Social Principles, 162.III). The Charter for Racial Justice states that, “all persons are equally valuable in the sight of God…that racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ…that we must work toward a world in which each person’s value is respected and nurtured…”(Social Principles, 162.III)
We remember our roots when we speak out for justice. United Methodist Women members organized against lynchings in the 1930s. We spoke out against the internment of Japanese neighbors during World War II. When hotels in St. Louis would not house Black women coming to the 1942 Assembly, we went elsewhere. When the US began its attack on Afghanistan in 2003, we called for an end to the bombing. When immigrants are demonized and criminalized today, we stand up to welcome our neighbors.
We do not want God to “be appalled.” Our strength comes from the peace born of the grace of Jesus Christ.
We call on you, United Methodist Women members from across the United States, to be part of dialogue and action for the transformation of the world. We call on you to:
- Be models of compassion in the workplace, church, and community in a time of division and hatred;
- Actively listen to those with whom we differ;
- Act on the Charter for Racial Justice by modeling inclusion of all people;
- Respond to a spiritual crisis in our nation by deepening our understanding of God’s call and filling our own deep yearnings for spiritual wholeness, that can empower us to act with love and compassion;
- Pray for healing in our nation;
- Model Jesus’ example by responding to the needs of all rather than responding to the impulse to protect our own needs and security first;
- Hold conversations in homes and churches that create space for dialogue about current realities, fears and the need for a faith-filled, compassionate response.
Anyone can do this. We do not need a prepared program—we just need to begin the conversation.