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Recognizing a Call to Yell: Sara

In Elmhurst College, Faith, Service, Social Justice, What If...? on November 23, 2010 at 6:00 am

Today’s guest post is by Sara Schroeder, an Elmhurst Senior studying Religious Studies, Philosophy, Sociology, and Art. Sara is president of Amnesty International at Elmhurst College, passionate about the environment as a human rights issue. In this post she calls us to step out of our comfort zones and speak out for respect of our global community.

‘Someone has to step up, otherwise no one will.’ The statement is hardly profound in itself, but undeniably true.

I live my life the way I do knowing that if I don’t wake up and do something about the news I hear or the things that upset me – no one else will. Waiting for someone else to call an ambulance for the pedestrian who just got hit by a car is dangerous: no one may call. If everyone assumes someone else is going to “handle” a situation, no one steps up. This phenomenon is more officially known as the bystander effect or Genovese syndrome. This is the problem with our privileged society.

I don’t consider myself solely capable to fight for human and environmental justice; I just can’t live my life without getting involved. I have too many resources and opportunities to either pretend that nothing is happening by not paying attention to world news, or knowing about these issues and thinking, “that’s too bad.”
For a while, I honestly did not know what was happening in the world, except for the select things that others chose for me to learn about.  In 2006 I saw the film Invisible Children, this film set off my desire to fight for human rights. I soon turned our high school’s International Club into a human rights group, holding events involving Amnesty International, but I was vaguely aware of AI’s mission. It was not until my first year in college that I became a part of Amnesty International, for which I now run meetings weekly.

My experience at church in high school focused more around tri-weekly meetings with church, not weekly meetings to change the world. Not to say there are not churches that do work for human rights, and sure, we raised money for “causes,” but the underlying goal of any church is to win souls for Christ – this, to me, is time that could be spent helping others in a practical way. As I’m grateful for the experience I had as a “born-again” non-denominational Christian, I wonder how much I could have done for humanity and the environment had I not been so intent on bringing people “to Christ” or delving into “the Word.” I, of all people understand the Bible and the message of a loving God and a progressive Christ-figure. Love is action; love is open-minded, open-hearted; love is acceptance. I truly believe that the church has become – even in its most ‘modern,’ ‘mission-tripping’ and ‘commune-like’ forms – a safe box to hide within.
This is not the time to hide. This is not time to try to change people’s minds about their existence because you think yours is correct. I know the majority of people who read this will shake their heads or silently disagree, citing in their mind all of the religious teachings and scriptures that tell them to do this or that, this way or that way. Go ahead; remind yourself why you disagree with ‘people like me.’ Think about how I’ve ‘fallen away.’ I’ll pause.

I understand, and scripture is powerful; preachers and teachers are powerful. My life was devoted to Christ, discipleship with others and studying scripture and nothing could change my mind. The gospels tell us about selflessness and giving: the state of the world is peril; people battling over ideas; a planet being destroyed with every start of a fossil-fueled engine. Those of us on the higher rungs of the economic ladder will not be affected too harshly, yet because we can put a bandage on the problems, or call the problem Appalachia or ‘developing countries.’ Those who are already being affected are those without the power or resources to stop big corporations from doing whatever it takes to make more money, at the expense of those with nothing to spare.


Furthermore, those of you who are yelling, are you YELLING about the RIGHT THINGS?

Take a step back. Read. Breathe. Think. Read a different opinion, and then ACT.

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