Friday, November 14, 2008

community organizing for justice - part I

I've been in FL attending a DART National Leaders Workshop (sounds pretty impressive, hmmm?). It's all been a bit overwhelming as I feel like I've been drinking from the fire hose of community organizer training with a faith-based twist. On the upside, I met a group of amazingly committed people to solving justice issues from a wide variety of backgrounds. I've never been involved in a more diverse group. On the downside, I worry about translating this info into some real action at Peace and in Charlottesville. I'm still processing the info, but here are some highlights:

what God intended for the community
religious values-shaping system - should bring us closer to God
political system - should ensure justice
economic system - should ensure a fair distribution of God's bounty

what went wrong?
- religious control
- political oppression
- economic exploitation

why is pursuing justice so hard for individuals and churches?
It requires power - the ability to give or take away something that someone or some organization wants or needs. Individuals and individual congregations don't usually possess this kind of power. Power comes from organized money and organized people. Power has risks, but the use of power is required to negotiate with our relationships of necessity (banks, gov't, retail, energy, healthcare, education, etc.). Instead of doing justice and loving mercy, we tend to love justice and do mercy.

how do you build power?
In order to live out our values, like doing justice, we need to organize people by engaging them, being in relationship with them, identifying their self-interests and finding common ground. Self-interest is not selfishness, it is your interests in relationship to others interests. I need to identify my own self-interests, so I recognize common interests with others and I can make clear my values and vision to others.


City of God, City of Satan - Robert Linthicum
Engaging the Powers - Walter Wink

if you're reading this AV, I know why you wanted me to go now and I can guess why you left it to my timing - thanks

No comments: