Once our kids are in bed, my husband and I have been watching Alone, an extreme reality TV show. In the latest episode, the survivalist tried desperately to pull out a fishing hook lodged deep in her hand. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she bravely used multiple strategies to remove the hook, each time crying out in pain and agony, but the hook refused to budge.
Here she was struggling in the middle of nowhere and I sat comfortably on my living room couch. What did I do when she was shown in such anguish? I chose not to watch. I literally turned my head the other way and asked my husband to tell me when the scene changed. It was too hard, too painful, too much. I chose not to see.
Choosing to See Injustice
My heart has a similar response when I hear of someone suffering injustice. I want to look away, to pretend it’s not happening, for someone to just tap me on the shoulder and let me know when it’s over. How about you? What do you do with the eyes of your heart? Over the years, I’ve noticed three common responses people have when faced with injustice.
Three Responses to Injustice
I don’t believe you.
These people choose not to see, to put on a blindfold of oblivion and ignorance. This response is by far the most comfortable, convenient, and safe. They say, “It doesn’t happen in my neighborhood and I certainly don’t have room for it in my worldview.”
I believe you but I don’t care.
Instead of a blindfold, this response puts on blinders of privilege, living life in one’s own lane, not alarmed, concerned, or involved in the plights of another because - let’s be honest - other people’s problems are just too much of a burden. They might read an article, share a Facebook post, give some time or money to ease their guilty conscience but they’ll stay at arm’s length. They know the injustice exists but their inaction says, “My days are so full of my own activities, friends, work, and other responsibilities that I choose not to make room for someone else.”
I believe you and I want to do something about it.
These people allow their minds to engage, their schedules to shift, and their hearts to break, putting on glasses of compassion and empathy that give them as close to 20-20 vision as possible. They “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8).
Jesus did this all the time. He never looked away from people’s pain; He always entered in. The adulterous woman. The leper. The woman at the well. He showed us that really seeing people is the first step in loving them.
How to Start
If you want to really start seeing people and loving them well, but you don’t know where to start, consider:
- God is the ONLY heart-changer. Pray for your own heart and His direction.
- Changing where & how you shop, focusing on fair trade businesses that give dignity and freedom to their workers. Here is an extensive list of fair trade organizations.
- Broadening your friendship group, getting to know people that aren’t exactly like you.
- Teaching and training your children to see injustice and do something big or small.
- Keeping your eyes open when you’re out and about… and speak up if you see an unjust situation playing out in front of you.
- Donating your time and/or money to organizations that are fighting injustice. (See the end of the post for a shortlist.)
- Contacting representatives or other influential people that have the political power to make a difference in our laws.
I will probably still look away when I see painful scenes on TV but I pray my heart will be stirred into action when I encounter injustice in the lives of people around me.
I choose discomfort, risk, and heartbreak.
I choose to see.
Organizations Fighting Injustice:
- International Justice Mission // Working with local justice officials, community partners, advocates, and people like you to end human trafficking.
- Urban Ventures // Works to address opportunity gaps in academics, nutrition, physical activity, parenting resources, and more—all with the overarching goal to prepare and send every youth in our neighborhood to college or post-secondary education.
- Breaking Free // Working for the freedom for victims of sex-trafficking, releasing them from a life of bondage and oppression into one of safety, restoration, and the ability to fly with wings of dignity, truth, and strength.
Shop Fair Trade List of Retailers
Each of these companies is Fair Trade certified, survivor-made or fair trade verified.