Have you ever felt outnumbered by those in power? This is what happens to millions of people every day- people fleeing from conflict areas, refugees, and people driven from their homes because of social or environmental situations. While some fight for their existence and life, for their children and family to survive, others don’t lift a finger for the their wellbeing. Life can be hard many times, but we can do something good for people. We can help and we can be a voice for the voiceless.
I have seen a lot of suffering in my life and work with a lot of children and youth from disfavored families and situations. We have helped with the resources available. But what is bothering me more is when we see and don’t act or we don’t speak. When someone comes standing alone, speaking up against injustice and wrong doing, what are we doing and how do we react?
Everyone knows what is going on, but fear of what can happen to us stops us from speaking up or taking the back of the ones that chose to take a stand. The world has its problems, rich and poor, powerful and powerless but with leadership and within the framework of churches and organizations I see the big world problems in a microscope.
Some people seem to accumulate a lot of power at the cost of others, even the wellbeing of others. The group or the person with power uses their power to gain favors or benefits for himself or even just to stay in power because power gives them some kind of identity.
That leads me to a Norwegian novelist that in 1937 who wrote a poem about and strongly warned against Nazi Germany and Hitler. Arnulf Øverland writes:
“You must not tolerate so well the injustice that doesn’t affect you yourself!”
In some places we can see how corruption has destroyed organizations and churches and how things have later on been blamed on a tiny part of the actual problem or on situations that are far from reality. Corruption often takes the form of power and it is interesting to see how power can corrupt processes and twist the truth. When someone speaks up in love and grace, for the well being of people and the organization, it’s something valuable and noble, but if there is corruption or a bad foundation for dealing with difficult cases, it can be a lonely place, making yourself a target for corrupt people to go after you.
The power abuse that can come when one leader sits on all power is amazing. The saying goes that,
“All power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
That is something to bear in mind for all of us. Let’s make room for more people. Let’s push and delegate power to our people and let’s get down from the pedestal. True Leadership dwells around compassion for people.
I see many times leaders who misuse power as people who struggle with insecurity. Insecure leaders produce fruit, but rarely good fruit says Cathrine Fuglestad in her article (http://missioninnovation.info/insecure-leaders/). Insecure leaders easily end up misusing their power out of fear, not that they want or plan this, but because they don’t know how to deal with situations that are beyond their security. Others are more deliberate- they know what they want and use the power given to them to make their will happen. Most of the time with a nice facade and a so-called well-meaning intention but the underlining and hidden mission is their way or no way.
The question for those of us who see what is going on in these situations is, “Will I let this injustice happen to my brother or sister?” If I only focus on my stuff and close my eyes to what is going on I don’t need to get involved and don’t need to take a stand. I let the power run over them but save myself. Benjamin Franklin says,
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are”.
If we are not dealing with corruption and poor leadership it will be like a disease threatening our whole existence and our organization will go under and people perish.
We need to stand up for our brothers and sisters who speak up, those who take action, who dare to tell their stories and dare to stand tall in times where injustice and corruption seems to have an influence in our life.
My hope is for the generation coming up. This is a generation of justice and they will reveal the sins of the generation before them. I am an optimist and believe that leaders will dare to stand up against injustice and corruption. I am an optimist when it comes to dealing with it and creating better platforms in organizations and churches where humility, love, and care are the underlining values.
‘Til next time, love people, hate corruption and speak up for those who experience power abuse and unjust processes.