Wednesday Word: The good society

If you do not have love, you cannot build a good society. -- Bawili

My latest edition of The Anglican Theological Review has as its theme the issue of water justice. Every article in this edition revolves around clean water: who has it, who needs it, who controls it.

Bawili is a woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the article and quote referenced above comes from her efforts to ensure everyone in her community had a toilet, and the communal response to her efforts. She is convinced that communities must be built on love, and not just some nice, frilly idea of love, but the kind of self-sacrificial love that drives you to build and install toilets for your neighbors.

This idea goes beyond the Water Justice Project and into almost every area of our lives.

Over the past four days, I read about yet another school shooting, this time in Great Mills, MD, and the story of Kentucky Republican candidate for Secretary of State, Carl Nett, tweeting that he would like to use Democratic Representative John Yarmuth for target practice. I met with a woman who is being forced to choose between buying necessary medicine and paying for groceries, rent, or electricity. I sat in on a meeting where we discussed the problems of homelessness (including homeless children) and how we might help alleviate that.

As I look around, it would seem more and more that our society is not built on love but on greed. The greed of corporations who value profits over human lives. The greed of lobbyists and special interests to protect their privileges while denying basic rights to others. The greed of those so afraid that they will lose their piece of the pie that they don't realizing there really is enough to go around. And the greed of those who demand everyone live into their standards of morality while ignoring their own immoral behavior.

At times it's overwhelmingly negative. At times I feel as if I can do little to nothing. At times I feel like the old man on the beach watching the young boy throw the starfish back into the ocean, “Why bother, it doesn't matter.”

But then I remember the young boy's response: “It matters to that one.” And I remember that big things often start small. So if we want to build a good society, we must have love. And I remember that within our greater society lies a smaller society named St. John's.

May the words of Bawili inform how we live and operate in this place.



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