On October 24 we celebrate the seventy-first anniversary of the United Nations. The United Nations came into being in the aftermath of two horrendous world wars that brought untold suffering and loss of life. The purpose of the UN was to save “succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights”, to “establish conditions under which justice … can be maintained”, “to promote social progress”, and “to better standards of life” for all people of all nations.
It would be fair to say that the UN has achieved only a fragment of what it set out to do. Wars continue to scourge the planet, human rights are blatantly abused in some parts of the world, injustice still plagues sections of society and the struggle to better the living conditions of people is ongoing. It was Albert Einstein who said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Today we are called to pause and reflect on what we really want to achieve. In today’s world the message of Jesus needs to be proclaimed with greater fervour and lived with deeper commitment. “I come that you may have life and have it in all its fullness,” Jesus said. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God, where justice shall flourish, where the rights of the widow and orphan are upheld, where the blind see, the lame walk and the oppressed go free, and where the love of neighbour and God are central to the lives of all people.
Jesus constantly invited people to walk in the shoes of the “other.” He brought to the fore the hidden and rejected, be they Samaritan or Syro-Phoenician, leper or widow, adulteress or tax collector, child or woman, publican or centurion. Jesus highlighted the plight of each of these and demanded that they be treated with the respect and love that was their due as children of God. No one was excluded and no one was turned away. Love one another as I have loved you, he commanded. Love your neighbour as yourself, he urged. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, he said.
The message of love, peace and justice has never been more pertinent than in these present times when, in our society, exclusion is commonplace; aggression towards the “other” is an everyday occurrence; women still endure bias and inequality; immigrants and refugees are frowned upon and treated with suspicion; children labour long hours in sweatshops and are denied the right to education; the sanctity of life is threatened; and nations wage war against the perceived enemy both within and beyond their own borders.
Jesus’ invitation to walk in the shoes of the other is taken up today by many different organizations, the United Nations being just one example. Paul Hawken speaks of a blessed unrest that has drawn people into a diverse movement for meaningful transformation. We are all invited to be part of that global movement which echoes the cry of the prophet Micah to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with our God.
READ: Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer
WATCH: Blessed Unrest: Paul Hawken
CONSIDER: Explore the Global Oneness Project