Friday 24 December 2010

Lessons of the Christmas Story for Solution Based Activists

My friend and colleague, Al Etmanski, has a blog series titled "Tips for Solution Based Advocacy". It's a great series and I commend it to anyone concerned about social justice.

This Christmas, I have been reflecting on the story of Jesus Christ and the lessons we might learn for advocacy from the New Testament. (For those of other faiths, I am sure that there are equally important lessons in those texts too!)

Jesus Christ endured social exclusion and poverty as well as political and religious oppression. Finally, he suffered a gross miscarriage of justice leading to a humiliating and painfully slow public execution.

When most of us suffer life's ill fate, we cry heavenwards "Why? Why is this happening to me?" But God had a big plan and so he sent his only son to be a changemaker in the world. Jesus had many reasons to be bitter and angry, but every aspect of His suffering was part of His father's architectural framework for an enduring form of solution based advocacy. God saw that there was not enough love in the world, not enough kindness or humility. There was too much deceit, injustice and hatred. And to top it all, there was no hope at all for redemption. What He needed was a massive campaign for a new way of living that would give meaning to the lives of all who believed.

Throughout history, real leaders have understood the need for communicating their most important messages using metaphor, allegory and poetry. Our most iconic heroes could ensure that legions of listeners would imagine themselves to be stronger by communing with a greater cause; made to feel great dignity, goodness and generosity of spirit simply by believing the message of a world made better.

Christ worked for inclusion, fraternity and for love to triumph over hate and the victory of hope over despair. To achieve his goals, he put together a great team of friends, all with leadership potential. He knew the value of a good education, so He worked with his team, continually teaching and mentoring until they were prepared to go it alone. But His resurrection from the dead revealed the full spectrum of His plan for the human race. Just when his team and followers had lost hope, Jesus showed that a message of truth must not die and that we need to continue to advocate, find solutions and communicate those with hope and vigour.

Jesus Christ lived and died thousands of years ago and I believe in His message today. Now, I call that a triumph of solution based advocacy. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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