Ongoing Struggle

Justice is not a mass-produced, consumer product; it is a craft product, produced by the masses. Justice is not something, like a nice car, that we can acquire already made; it is, like a good friendship, something that we can only have if we make it ourselves. We don’t get it by taking what we consider to be our rights without due regard for our responsibility to others. We get it by giving ourselves to doing what we know is “the right thing” by one another.

Justice that preserves people’s self-respect by doing “the right thing” by one another is always going to be a struggle: a struggle to empower all those who, hitherto, have all too often been overpowered; a struggle to enable people from every stratum of our society to move toward being less autocratic, more democratic and more able to actively seek and actually find the elusive synergy and serendipity of consensus through participatory processes of corporate decision-making in communities, large and small.

Reinhold Niebuhr reminds us that democracy is not a panacea. He describes it, rather ironically, as “a method of finding proximate solutions for insoluble problems.” But, according to Niebuhr, democracy is nevertheless very important as a process in our struggle for justice because, as he says, “(our) capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but [our] capacity for injustice makes democracy imperative.” According to Niebuhr, “The highest achievement of democratic societies is that they embody the principles of resistance to government with the principle of government itself.”[1]

Jacques Ellul warns us not to take any such achievements for granted. “Experience has shown the state will only retreat when it meets an insurmountable obstacle. The obstacle can only be citizens organized independently of the state. But once organized, the citizens must possess a truly democratic attitude in order to depoliticize and repoliticize (our society in terms of community).”

“All this,” Ellul tells us, becomes a profound change in the citizen. It must be admitted that democracy is the exact opposite of our taste for tranquillity… As long as [we are] preoccupied only with [our] security and the stability of [our] life, we should have no illusions, we will certainly not find the civic virtue to make democracy come alive…”

“Democracy,” Ellul tells us, “becomes possible only through every citizen’s will; it remakes itself every day, through every citizen. If we accept the view that democracy is a given fact, everything is lost. On the contrary, it must be understood that democracy can no longer be anything except will, conquest and creation. We must understand that democracy is always infinitely precarious and is mortally endangered by every new progress. It must be forever started again, reconstructed, begun again.”[2]

 

Wanna

 

Wanna take my faith – one breath at a time.

Wanna take my faith – one breath at a time

Pumpin’ my soul with the spirit of God.

Preaching tolerance – practicing love.

Wanna take my faith – one breath at a time.

 

Wanna give my love – one stretch at a time

Wanna give my love – one stretch at a time

Soothing pain with hands of grace.

Strengthening justice – spreading peace.

Wanna give my love – one stretch at a time.

 

Wanna care for the rich, care for the poor.

Care for the stranger knocking at the door.

I wanna care for myself – and everybody else.

 

Wanna make my way – one step at a time

Wanna make my way – one step at a time.

Putting one foot in front of the other.

Hand in hand – sister and brother

Wanna make my way – one step at a time.

 

Wanna care for the rich, care for the poor.

Care for the stranger knocking at the door.

I wanna care for myself – and everybody else.

 

Wanna (mp3) (sheet music)

 

Dave Andrews

 

[1] G. Harland, The Thought of Reinhold Niebuhr (Oxford University Press, 1960),  164.

[2] Jacques Ellul, The Political Illusion (A. A. Knopf, 1967), 224-36.

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