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Playing our part

Playing our part

Playing our part

22 May 2022

“Despite the immense challenges and suffering of our world, I believe that how I live my life makes a difference.”

By Jo-anne Brown   

I turn off the evening news, dismayed by stories of war, injustice, climatic catastrophes, domestic violence and so on. The issues are huge, and, like many others, I feel overwhelmed trying to work out how to deal with it all. There is so much I cannot do, so much I cannot change.  

I also know, however, that I’m not totally powerless. Despite the immense challenges and suffering in our world, I believe that how I live my life makes a difference.   

Long ago, during a time of oppression, corruption, violence and mistreatment of women and children, God spoke clearly about how we should live. His simple words show us how to respond to what is going on in the world: act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah chapter 6, verse 8, New International Version).  

Kind and fair 

What does it mean for me today to act justly? Another way of saying this is “be fair and just to my neighbour” (The Message). I may not be able to do much about the great injustices and inequalities in the world, but I can be fair and just in how I treat people around me.   

When I treat others the way I want to be treated, when I speak up against wrong behaviour, and when I respect all people, regardless of background or beliefs, I’m practising justice.

When I refrain from joining in unfair ways of dealing with others, I’m acting justly. When I refuse to perpetuate unjust systems or say, “No, I don’t want to go along with that,” I’m living justly.  

Justice is not cold and impersonal. The justice I am called to live is clearly connected with mercy and being loving. It means being “compassionate and loyal in my love” (The Message). It is about being kind.   

Sometimes it’s easy to be kind, especially when people are kind to me. It’s much harder, however, to respond with kindness when others are unkind. Kindness might mean walking away from a potentially volatile situation, or it might be acting or speaking in such a way to defuse that situation.   

Being kind doesn’t always mean making someone feel good – sometimes, it means challenging attitudes or behaviour, disagreeing with the status quo, or stepping back from a situation. Kindness towards some people may make us unpopular or misunderstood. And yet, kindness also has a ripple effect. Have you noticed? When someone is unexpectedly kind to me, perhaps seeing where I need help and offering it, this can open a door of kindness to others.    

Mutual humanity 

Being kind and fair keeps us grounded. We don’t need to take ourselves too seriously, to be important or influential, or be recognised for how good we are. Justice and compassion are about others, not ourselves, although they impact us positively.  

Walking humbly with God means recognising I’m as much in need of kindness and fairness as anyone else, and I sometimes need support from others to be kind and act justly because it can be hard. My desire to be compassionate and treat others fairly comes from recognising our mutual humanity – we are all connected. It’s hard to live well, and none of us “have it all together”, no matter how it seems or what we tell ourselves!  

When we feel overwhelmed by the suffering in the world, it’s helpful to remember we do have a part to play. Whatever else we are experiencing in life, we can act with fairness towards others, be kind, and recognise our own humanity, standing in solidarity with those around us. How we live our life can make a difference as our altruistic actions ripple outwards, touching the lives of others in significant ways. 

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