Spokane, Wash.

Being a spoke in Spokane

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself,” Bonhoeffer Life Together

Spokane, Wash.
Spokane, Wash.

I wonder how many of us are bold enough to drive a spoke into the wheels of injustice. Forget the spoke, how many of us are courageous enough to open our eyes to the realities of injustice happening around us? More than opening our eyes, whom of us will realize that our personal methodical rhythms of life encourage and sustain socially acceptable injustices every day?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act,”  Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship

What convicting words. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

What is the spoke that will utterly derail the wheels of injustice in our city? I think it is you and me. It is easy to bandage the wounds of the homeless by providing a couple of dollars here and there. It is easy to momentarily assuage the troubles of a teen in crisis by providing some material need. It is easy send in monthly support to a non-profit working with people trapped in the sex-trade. It is easy to only associate with people who look the same, talk the same, and think the same.

I think the wheel of injustice continues to roll on because we cushion our lives with comfort. Comfort prevents us from entering into the messiness and inconvenience of relationship. What would happen if we allowed our safe lives to be interrupted and disturbed by injustice? How would our city be different if we stepped out in courage and let our lives become a spoke in the wheel of injustice?

How can you and I be subversive to the socially acceptable systems in place that promote and sustain injustice?

I don’t think there is a ‘one-size fits all’ answer. But one thing I am being more intentional about is making space to engage with the ‘uncomfortable and messy.’ Whether it be conversations around cultural racism, sexual orientation, socio-economic discrimination, gender inequality, war, consumerism and environmental stewardship — whatever the topic, I am choosing to allow the narratives of others intersect mine. As space is created for our narratives to overlap and connect, the lens of “us and them” is broken down. I believe this is the achilles heal of any injustice. If we can break down the “us-them” mentality, I think we’ll have a fighting chance of derailing injustice on multiple levels within our community.

Ask someone about their story this week, and then listen. Let your week be interrupted by the uncomfortable and messy. It’s OK, you won’t die.

About Annie May Brown

Annie May Brown is a passionate and joyful soul who moved to Spokane in 2011 with hopes of pursuing, creating and cultivating rich and authentic community. Within a year of being in Spokane, her hopes are budding.

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  1. Washington state used to cover more people on welfare than other states, they covered people after the five year limit with state funds and had much more help for persons without children. Then the rescission hit and the poor & others voted against I1098 income tax. SB6230 (bill information) is an income tax on rich Write about SB6230 so the legislature can help more families

  2. The most important part is to take the initiative yourself, not to expect other people to do it. (Take the dollar out of you own pocket, not somebody else’s pocket.) God expects believers to act individually at the direction of the Holy Spirit. Most “social justice” advocates expect their elected officials to force everybody to chip in. There’s a word for that: socialism. Jesus wasn’t a socialist. He was a Holy Spirit-filled believer. He never forced anybody to help the poor.

  3. I appreciate that this author is extending this challenge to herself, as well as to the rest of us. A good leader, IMHO!

  4. Mark, I appreciate your point as it’s one I hear often from people in the church. But there are a few things I have to wonder about… Jesus perhaps didn’t force people to care for the poor, but he did say he would hold them eternally accountable for it, as in the parable of the sheep and the goats and others (which to me seems more severe). It’s hard to make statements about Jesus not being a socialist since socialism as a form of government did not exist at that point in history…neither did democracy. I also have to wonder…is it actually possible for the church to meet the needs of the poor in our world by itself?

    • I thought this forum was about religion, not politics. If we begin to discuss here what the government is supposed to do, then this is a political forum. Socialist / communist / progressive politics has always promoted taking money away from (allegedly rich) people against their wills and giving it to politically favored groups (allegedly poor people.)

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