So, tonight I finished my essay.
Yes, it still needs a bit of tweaking, a bit of tidying, and I need to lose about 30 words or so… but for all intents and purposes… IT IS FINISHED!
And my life is my own once more.
I feel as happy right now as I look in this photo ->
This has actually been one the most challenging pieces of work that I’ve ever written. Both personally, in the uncomfortable questions that it has made me ask about my own lifestyle, and academically, in structuring something that can bring the stories of individual’s to life without losing the application of theory.
Because I’m not sure that you would neccessarily have the stamina to read the whole thing, but my brain’s too confuddled with all this stuff to write an independent blog tonight… Here’s my conclusion! Enjoy! 🙂
In his recent teaching on the mercy and justice, David Pawson (2011) describes God as ‘more than fair’. Similarly, Forrester (1997) talks of true justice as more than fairness. ‘It expresses a generosity which sometimes conflicts with rights or desert or fairness both in relation to oneself and others. Generous justice can sometimes mean giving people more than their due’ (ibid: 233). This is the challenge of a Christian response to welfare reform; one that goes further than liberal justice, rational human rights, or selfish desires. Outside of the perfect reign of God, the cry for justice will exist. Inequalities will exist. However, our response to these inequalities must be both real and tangible. As community educators we have role in bringing individuals out of their humiliation, in listening, in walking with them as Jesus would walk with them, in supporting them to find direction. It is too easy for the stories of Michelle and Katie to fall unheard in the unseen places where the needy dwell, too often forgotten. Too often forgotten that is, by all but Jesus, who sits with the outcasts, and eats with the disregarded, and befriends the ignored. ‘This is a chasm which cannot be bridged by those who wish to help the poor, but do not know the poor, who are not friends with the poor, who have not been challenged in the depths of their being by the pain of poverty’ (Forrester 2001: 255). This is a chasm that cannot be bridged by perspectives of human liberty that do not challenge the depth of inequality and birth a passion for justice within us.
For Michelle and for Katie, there needs to be hope. Hope birthed through a justice that offers them more than they deserve, and a love that offers genuine relationship in the midst of an environment that threatens to rob them of dignity. Our response to welfare reform is more than simply a political stance or a question of human liberty; it is a response to Micah’s significant question: ‘And what does the Lord require of you?’ The answer: ‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6: 8).