Change We Can Really Believe In
Thankfully, it was available at our local library – though there was a fairly long hold list for it. Like other documentaries we’ve seen recently (Food, Inc., The Sold Project), the film upset and angered us. Yes, the inhumane killing of the dolphins was gut-wrenching, but for me, a pattern that seems to be developing was even more troubling.
The late-2000s recession, the BP oil spill, and the cruelty depicted in The Cove, among other things, all seem to have one thing in common: greed trumps compassion. Combined with wars with seemingly no end, sex trafficking at major world events, incidents of animal cruelty, and the obesity epidemic, it’s enough to make even the most optimistic feel hopeless. In a capitalist system, can we really fault corporations for their greed? And can we do anything to alter their practices, especially with the pockets of those who are supposed to be representing us being lined by the corporations we are increasingly distrusting? What kind of country are we living in when we don’t even know if the food we are eating is safe? And what kind of culture and era are we living in when we are more interconnected yet lonelier than ever?
Not only is it easy to lose hope, but with the mind-boggling cruelty and utter lack of care for the interest of others, it’s easy to despise being human. If you’ve seen The Cove, the portion where they covered Minamata Disease was terribly upsetting.
And amidst that dark backdrop, there is light. With so many issues and problems in the world, there’s also no shortage of causes to jump on and support. In The Cove, Ric O’Barry says, “You’re either an activist or an inactivist.” If the oil spill in the gulf bothers you, you can do something about it. If the sex trafficking in Thailand bothers you, like it did for me and my wife, you can do something about it. The problems and challenges we face are massive, but everyone can contribute in some way.
And if you’re a Christian, it’s a commandment. Some people think saying a simple prayer gets you into heaven. With all due respect, that’s stupid. If the requisite for salvation was a few words said and a few tears shed, God the Father sending Jesus to be cursed on the cross was the most negligent act ever and could be classified as Divine Malpractice. God showed us such great love that we might love that much more. As Jesus said, in Luke 7:47, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Along those lines, one of the more sobering passages of Scripture for me is Matthew 25, which is essentially what is commonly referred to as Judgment Day. In this passage, Jesus basically says you’re going to be surprised who gets in and who doesn’t. The bottom line comes in verses 40 and 45, “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did/did not do for one of the least of these, you did/did not do for me.'”
It’s not,”how many evil corporations did you overturn,” or “how many dolphins did you save” (thank goodness); it’s what you did for the least of these.
When Jesus was on earth, He didn’t come to overthrow the Romans as many had hoped He would do. No, He cared for the least of these. The lepers. A poor widow. Orphans. Children. Paralytics. Those who were demon-possessed. His love was so great, He made the greatest preacher and first leader of the church out of a poor fisherman. He turned a despised tax collector into one of the great writers in history, after all, few writers can claim their writing is still transforming readers thousands of years later. And more personally, He turned a depressed teenage kid into a proud father and (trying to be) loving husband. He filled me with hope and had the best plan for my life. He loved me so much, that I can’t help but love those around me.
As Jesus said, the two greatest commandments are, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
So that’s what I plan on teaching my kids. You can change those around you through acts of kindness and compassion, and if that leads you to help changing the world? Even better. No act of kindness is insignificant; no act of compassion goes unnoticed.
Compassion. That’s the great thing about being human.