I kept reading everyone blogging about Bono’s speach to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. I noticed people’s caps-lock key seemed to break when they said “must” read… but it was Phil Baker who finally linked a fully-free transcript for me, not an excerpt, an audio stream, or a registration-required offer. Snippets of what I found there:
Yes, itâ€™s odd, having a rock star hereâ€”but maybe itâ€™s odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state wasâ€¦ well, a little blurry, and hard to see.
I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundaysâ€¦ and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.
For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native landâ€¦ and in this country, seeing Godâ€™s second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cashâ€¦ in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishmentâ€¦
I must confess, I changed the channel.
Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.
Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.
I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hillâ€¦ I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuffâ€¦ maybe, maybe notâ€¦ But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.
But hereâ€™s the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. Thereâ€™s is much more to do. Thereâ€™s a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.
And finally, itâ€™s not about charity after all, is it? Itâ€™s about justice.
Let me repeat that: Itâ€™s not about charity, itâ€™s about justice.
And thatâ€™s too bad.
Because youâ€™re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who canâ€™t afford it.
But justice is a higher standard.
…But I can tell you this:
To give one percent more is right. Itâ€™s smart. And itâ€™s blessed.
There is a continentâ€”Africaâ€”being consumed by flames.
I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we didâ€”or did not toâ€”to put the fire out in Africa.
History, like God, is watching what we do.
Bono talking about Justice, about the Year of Jubilee, about the nation giving a tithe of one percent to help the poor, which is more than they’re doing now. This rock star has more God in his speech than you might hear from the average pulpit on Sunday morning. I’m not one to give you an all-caps plea that you must read this speech… but I do commend it to you very highly.
I love your blog. I also love your observations and agree with many of them.
However, this time I have to disagree. It is not about justice. It is about love. These three abide, faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love. If we really love the poor, we’ll desire and act to help them.
Justice is a domain that gets really touch. We don’t have perfect vision.
If we go to the rich man and say it’s about justice. He’ll say I earned my money and they can do the same.
Then we’ll say, but you earned your money, by using up their resources.
He’ll say, their government is corrupt, so it doesn’t make a difference. Let them reform their laws and start in their own house first…. and on it goes. Justice if very often dependent on where someone sits.
In essense the argument for justice can be made multiple ways and it
doesn’t always play well with the guy who is rich especially if they consider themselves “self made.”
However, love is always about helping and serving others. That’s what we are called to. If we love, we will give and help because it is Christ in us allowing us to have a heart for others.
This is a little rambling. I hope I made sense.
Thanks for the link, Beth — I always like reading the transcript but then you have to just imagine Bono’s Irish accent… I’ve downloaded the MP3 for later listening ;^)
John, I agree about love being the proper motivator for justice. I would make a distinction in two kinds of “justice” though, one of which you’re describing… and this is “fairness.” Justice and fairness are not the same. Fairness says, “If I worked for my food, so should you.” Justice says, “Everyone should have food, and I have extra which I will share with those who lack.” These self-made people you speak of are asking for fairness, not justice. Conversely, some who claim to seek justice for themselves are really only seeking fairness.
Justice is decreed by God, fairness is the concept of man. Problems abound when man decides what’s “fair” and then impose the concept upon God as though he should measure up to it. God is the yardstick, “just” is what he does…. so any “justice” that’s dependent upon perspective is really only some distorted view of fairness, and the reason that viewpoint changes its meaning is that it’s defined by the beholder. Justice is less fluid.
On this basis, I can agree with what you’re saying except that I think it describes fairness rather than justice. Of the two, justice is the higher standard. Thoughts?
I do agree with you. But a lot of what I hear when I hear social justice is talk about fairness. Now justice that is motivated out of love is always right. But I tend towards getting to the real motivation. If we can really learn to love, I believe justice will flow out of that. You’re right, there definitely is a difference and in this world, there is no reason millions should starve. We have grain that rots in silos. Great conversation. Thanks.