The Real Revolution

Many years ago, I stood in the hospital room of a young woman, 17 years old, whose arm had just been amputated because of a diagnosis of bone cancer. I naively stood by feeling hopeful. The “problem” had been cut off. But her mother felt no such relief.
“Now the real work begins,” she said.
She was so right. The young woman began chemotherapy and made enough of a recovery to attempt to participate in one last track event and to attend her senior prom. But while she was adjusting to her new normal, her body was doing no such thing.
Her cancer allowed a brief remission, only to come back with a fury and a vengeance, and within a year, this young girl was dead. Her journey to her end was excruciatingly painful; the disease had metastasized everywhere, and she was so in pain that she could not stand even a sheet to touch her body.
I think about that young girl often, but thought again of her this week at the news that Gen. Muammar Gadhafi had been killed. The people of Libya have succeeded in cutting off, amputating, if you will, this dictator who did so much harm to so many for so long.
But the amputation is not the end of the story; it is merely the beginning. Now, as the mother of the young girl with bone cancer shared, “the real work begins.”
. “Libyans aim for multiparty politics, justice, democracy and freedom,” said Libyan Defense Minister Jalal al-Degheili. “The end of Gadhafi is not the aim, we say the minor struggle is over. The bigger struggle is now coming. This will not happen unless all the Libyan people are … united.”
How difficult it is to get people to unite. God and religion notwithstanding, from the beginning of time the desire and greed for power has gotten in the way of humane relationships between human beings. While there is a stated ideal of democracy and justice, those ideals seem very difficult to make materialize and stick.
What the Libyan people will now have to decide is how to unite. What will that mean? Who will shape the definition so that the majority of people buy into the vision? Will “the least of these,” the women, and other marginalized people be figured into the final equation and its desired solution?
Unfortunately, money, or the desire for it, so often compromises the ideal for democracy, if I understand democracy correctly. A democracy is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That is the ideal.
But the reality is that in most democracies I have studied, the ideal is replaced by a reality which makes it so that most of the power and wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a very few, while the masses are depended upon to support that very few and work to increase the wealth of that same small group of people.
So, there is not a one person dictatorship, but there is a sort of dictatorship nonetheless. The religious ideal of being concerned with and ministering to “the least of these,” and the political ideal to be the voice of the masses of people falls to the wayside.
Though in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says clearly that we “cannot serve God and Money.” (Luke 16:13, NIV) Interestingly, the word “money” is capitalized, as though it were a person. Indeed, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that corporations are people, implying that the “feelings” and “needs” of the corporations must always be considered.
Even as I write this, in the wee hours of the morning, the coverage on CNN about Gadhafi’s death and the new reality, is swirling around the topic of “money.”
Jesus said, in that same chapter of Luke, that we “cannot serve two masters; either we will love the one and hate the other or visa versa. In “The Message” Bible, Jesus’ words are interpreted this way: “No worker can serve two bosses. He’ll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the Bank.”
And the word “bank” is capitalized.
As the Libyan people adjust to their new reality, the two bosses will be in the midst of them. It would appear that their now-deceased dictator adored money and power and left God out of the loop, except for ceremonial display. That’s not unusual; that is exactly what I am saying happens in democracies.
God, in the Hebrew scriptures, often railed against truly religious people: “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them …Away with the noise of your songs: I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24, NIV)
It’s the people who are being forgotten that God is advocating for. He does it consistently throughout the Hebrew scriptures, especially in the books of the prophets, both major and minor.
The real revolution can actually take place now, as the Libyans work to form a democracy, where “the people” are factored into the new government, with God’s mandate to show compassion for all people being considered a primary tenet of that government.
Will the new Libyan government serve God …or the Bank?
It remains to be seen.
That would be a candid …observation.

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