Tuesday, March 10

Do Not Be Surprised

Read Ecclesiastes 5:8

"If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and right, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them."
- Ecclesiastes 5:8

Reflection: The season of Lent and the act of fasting are detours from our normal rhythms of life and eating. We refrain from certain foods, sacrificing a personal pleasure or in more serious fasts, forgo the sustenance our body is telling us we need. The Fast from Fast Food may mean just that, as a quick bite you expected to eat on the fly gets passed over, and you end up missing a meal completely, having to persevere while hungry.

But this hunger we experience by choice as an irregularity is actually the norm for so many struggling people, not by choice but because they lack work that sustains them. That is what the Fast from Fast Food is about: It is a teaching moment for all of us to experience at a visceral level the inhumane limits imposed on millions of people in our economy. By taking on these limits, we are disciplining ourselves to "not be surprised" at the oppression of the poor, as the writer of Ecclesiastes exhorts us. We are internalizing bodily the reality all too common for far too many of our sisters and brothers. 

Together, in the Fight for 15, we are standing with workers in raising the unsettling reality of systematic exploitation across industries. This is not an easy truth to hear, for others or for ourselves. So here we are first unsettling our diets, our rhythms, our lives, to bring them more in tune to the unsettled, unjust contours of our economy. This adjustment (or "maladjustment") to the world's brokenness is a core spiritual awareness to which we are called as people of goodwill. In the words of The Rev. Dr. King:

There are some things in our nation and some things in our world, for which I am proud to be maladjusted, and I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized.  I must honestly say to you I never intend to adjust myself to racial segregation and discrimination.  I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few and leave millions of God's children smothering in an airtight cage of poverty, in the midst of an affluent society.

Do not be surprised. Be maladjusted. And know this as the wisdom of God.

By Paul Drake, Director, Massachusetts Interfaith Worker Justice

Prayer: Grant us and those around us eyes to see what goes unseen, ears to hear the cries that go unheard, and the courage to live and work in that reality, until together we win justice for all of God's children.

I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few and leave millions of God's children smothering in an airtight cage of poverty, in the midst of an affluent society.

—The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


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