Over the weekend, I watched an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing. In it, two Native Americans show up at the White House and refuse to leave until they get an answer on an application their tribe submitted… fifteen years ago.
Near the end of the episode, White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg asks them, “How do you keep fighting the smaller injustices when they’re all from the mother of all injustices?”
This question captured my heart and attention because I believe it’s an important one for those of us in ministry to continually wrestle with.
Thanks to social media, it seems as though every week we’re exposed to a new “mother of all injustices.”
- Child soldiers.
- Water scarcity.
- Human trafficking.
- Inequalities of all kinds.
To be sure, injustices like these deserve our attention. But I wonder if focusing on the “mother of all injustices” actually get in the way of addressing smaller injustices?
After all, the “mother of all injustices” are big issues that are often faceless.
Because of this, it can be difficult to figure out how to even get started (though organizations like World Vision definitely make that easier).
Once you finally do get started, it can be equally difficult to see how what you’re doing matters; to stay motivated to keep up the fight.
Given this, maybe we’d be better off reversing the order and focusing first on the smaller injustices before then focusing on the “mother of all injustices”.
At the very least, I wonder what would happen if we connected the smaller injustices we see everyday in our local communities with our fight against the big ones found in our global world.
Doing this was something that changed my experience of the 30 Hour Famine.
The first few years my teens participated in the Famine, we focused only on global hunger. We played Tribe. We learned about world hunger. And what we learned was good.
But time and time again, students left saying, “Now what?”
So one year, we finally connected our community’s small injustices with the big global ones.
We went to a local homeless shelter where we cooked and prepared dinner for their clients and neighboring community. We did so even as we raised money and awareness to fight global hunger.
You see, you fight the small injustices because you can; because they are no more or less important than the “mother of all injustices.”
And when you fight them, rather than leave teens feeling paralyzed by the size of the “mother of all injustices”, you empower them to go out and continuing fighting injustices—whenever and wherever they see them.