I wrote the other day about the need to engage with the complex. It’s important that we dive into it rather than simplify the issue so we don’t need to change.
But how do we do that?
We’re busy and complex issues are well……complex.
How can we engage with them?
These are less steps as much as they are a few things I’ve found really helpful to consider when I’m looking at large complex issues. These aren’t absolutes and won’t apply in all situations but they are valuable as starting points. When the spectrum of the issue is beyond me and I can’t possible get my head around the entirety of it what do I do? Well…
- No absolute statements – I’m not an expert and to speak in the absolute encourages arguments and not discussion. It creates a space ripe for us vs them and I’m coming to believe an us vs them perspective is one of the most dangerous ways for people to view a problem
- Does this encourage change or support the status quo? The status quo in the west is sadly one built upon exploitation.
- If the change doesn’t mean less for me then its probably not what God wants me to do. If this change isn’t about me as a privileged white male releasing some of my privilege and power than there a good chance I’m working towards maintaining it. The maintenance of my privilege and power is often at the expense of the already marginalized.
- I don’t get to talk about my rights. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves, so my rights die with him. This is way bigger than it sounds too. We are raised to fight for our rights and encouraged to stand for them. Jesus calls us to stand for those who have no rights, no power, no place and in most places that means me relinquishing rights of my own.
- Ask those with lived experience. Confession time, I don’t do this enough. I make really great excuses why but ultimately I just don’t try hard enough. But I don’t understand what it’s like to be poor. I have glimpses and can imagine, but the daily grind of never having enough is something I cannot understand. Nor can I understand what it means to be marginalized minority. I just don’t get it. I want to and I understand much more than I ever have how much privilege my gender, orientation and skin colour afford me, but I’m still worlds away from understanding what it’s like on the other side. I’ve found the more often an issue has a face that I trust the harder it is for me to continue in my ignorance, willful or otherwise.
I’m sure there are way more things I’m missing but it’s a start. When it comes to the most important and complex issues we cannot over simplify them, but in reality few of us have the time or skill to see the totality of the issue. Because of that I consider the things above as a way remaining humble and working as hard as I can to place others first.
If I may simplify my process for not oversimplifying the complex it would be this.
How does what I’m doing/advocating for show those who are on the margins love?