Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you satisfied?

I heard in the news this week that Barack Obama’s official nomination as the Democratic candidate for the US presidency will coincide with the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Just as King took the opportunity to capitalise on the historic symbolism by giving his speech in front of the Lincoln memorial, Obama has recently and famously stepped into the historical footsteps of both King and JFK.

Here’s an excerpt from King’s famous speech:
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: ‘For Whites Only.’ We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ (Amos 5:24)
All of us who are involved with The Salvation Army – staff, officers, volunteers, soldiers and community partners – follow in the footsteps of William and Catherine Booth. The dedicated founders of the Salvos also had a dream of a different world. The Booths’ religious convictions showed them a compassionate God that sided with the poor and called them to alleviate human suffering in His name.

So I’m wondering today, what our world needs to look like for The Salvation Army to be satisfied? Would we say that we cannot be satisfied as long as people are homeless or relegated to inadequate housing? Will we be satisfied while tax cuts favour the rich and the greatest impact of inflation is upon those living below the poverty line on fixed incomes? How can we be satisfied when people are hurt so deeply that they resort to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain in their lives? Surely we cannot be satisfied with multi-generational unemployment and the continuing prevalence of low levels of literacy and numeracy amongst our poorest citizens?

Being a part of The Salvation Army means living with a sense of dissatisfaction in the present that compels us to make change in the world. Until we see that change, we’ll fight to the very end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope, pray and trust that the Salvation Army will never be satisfied until we see such changes - that we will fight to the very end as our Founder did. As the song writer so poignantly put it: "There are people hurting in the world out there, they need you, they need me, they need Christ". May we never be satisfied with anything less than doing everything in our power to change things for the better. May God help us to make a BIG difference.