But perhaps my own behavior is more like Herod’s than I care to admit. Oh sure, I don’t order anyone’s killing like Herod, who was well known for his rage and brutality, even killing off several of his own children. But is that just a convenient layer of protection to block me from truly seeing the reverb my actions cause around the world?
Bertha Beachy, a longtime missionary in East Africa, said, “North Americans find it very hard to believe that their wealthy ways of living affect poor people on other continents. But in Africa, people are fully convinced that North Americans and their actions strongly influence their lives.” Living More with Less says, “Our seemingly indirect actions can actually cause very direct consequences in the lives of many in parts of the world that seem distant.” Here are just a few examples of the reverb:
- Our insatiable need for transport demands oil – lots of it – which through war causes the killing of many innocents for our convenience.
- Our insatiable need for tomatoes out of season demands the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and transport which causes harm to our bodies and environment.
- Our insatiable need for computers and cellphones demands the use of “conflict minerals” like tin & tungsten which cause “children and adults —through rape and brute force—to work in mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” says Mark Regier.
- Our insatiable need for cheap fashionable clothing demands outsourcing labor to sweatshops, causing unjust and unhealthy labor conditions and the perpetual poverty of those who make the garments.
The wisdom of the Magi opens the door for us all:
1. Take responsibility. When they discover the horror of what they accidentally did they embraced their guilt as a productive, not a paralyzing, emotion. Not that they pulled the trigger or gave the order to do so. Nor did they blame others, insulate themselves, or say “I was just following orders.” They acknowledge their part in the injustice, and make a change. Rather than going back to Herod and Jerusalem, they go home by another route, keeping the new kings’ whereabouts secret. We must see ourselves as part of the global family, and admit our decisions have global impact. Being response-able demands we unpack the layer upon layer of distance we feel from the problems we’ve helped create, and to live in the tension.
2. Make a change. It doesn’t have to be huge, and we don’t have to turn Amish. But we are all capable of making changes that love our global neighbors in healthier ways. Consider Fair Trade, which guarantees a livable wage and safe working conditions for producers