Let the Smoke & Ash Collect

I know, my next post was supposed to be pictures & words of that Buffalo weekend back in January…but I’m home on break this week, and the internet here is too slow to try uploading things. It’ll happen, though. For now I’ve decided that tonight is guilt-free movie night, where I blog & watch “Out of Africa” & my first Indiana Jones!

What I’m thinking of now, to the dancing sound of Sigur Ros’s ‘Gobbledigook,’ is passion. Of why some of us in this world care so much & others seem to not at all. Of the fact that the word “compassion” is mostly made up of the word “passion.”

In the past few weeks, some of my friends revealed to me the truth about Coca-Cola. About its widespread human rights violations & other actually really terrible things. I won’t go into that now – but just let me say, it’s become a great concern for me – as are any injustices when I see them.

What I’ve found as I tell people, mostly friends and family, about the Coke issue, is a strange fire. Some people are the outskirts, barely burning coals. They nod dismissively; “Uh-huh” and “Yup” and “Oh?” me to death. These people don’t let much bother them…

Some are the long, clean flames of the fire. They see the problem and are willing to do something. They jump right in and ask for information, how to fix the problem.

Others are the random pops and cracks of a burning fire. They snap out, personally offended that I’d dare to suggest that a brand of soda they like to drink would do anything harmful. They are, in fact, annoyed that I’d suggest they give it up in exchange for supporting the rights of foreigners they don’t even know.

The interesting thing here is that what I’m asking people to give up is a bubbly sugar water (I love it too – but let’s be honest with ourselves). What I’m asking, begging, for them to care about is the well being of other humans. People. They breathe in, breathe out; they wake up sweating from bad dreams & go to find someone else in the house to comfort them; they need water and food to survive; they’re curious; they get paper cuts & splinters.

Recently when the issue came up while some friends and I 2were making beverage choices at a restaurant, one of the people (who I must add I think is an awesome person) said that they had already tried to live that sort of lifestyle (i.e. the boycott, the fair-trade route, etc.) and that it’s “unlivable.” With all due respect, that’s not a good enough excuse anymore.

Rarely do I find myself quoting Helen Keller, but here I must: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Last night I watched one of my favorite abolitionist movies, “Amazing Grace.” Made about events that were far before my time, it still inspires me in the fight against slavery today. At one point, someone who was in favor of the slave trade said that there was no evidence that the slaves themselves were not in favor of it. Inadvertently, a lot of us sit comfortably sandwiched in our easy culture (I’ve done it much too often myself) and say, “How do we know they wouldn’t be worse off without this injustice? How do we know they aren’t happy that way? It IS all they’ve ever known.”

Culture is always something to talk about, but I’ll save that for another day. I don’t want to pull the “God” line, either but I have to say all I know is that we’re all in on this life thing together, and Jesus loves the Colombian workers in the Coca-Cola bottling plant & the Indian villagers as much as he loves us American students, making minimum wage and dreaming tall and wide.  I say this because I truly believe it, not just because it sounds good. And that makes us pretty equal I’d say, and it makes the burdens of the Colombian worker the same burdens I carry.

I’m going to end this with a couple verses, not to smack your face with Christianity or to be one of the holier-than-thou types, but because my own sorry heart is convicted by them. Open up a little – be willing to feel something, even if it hurts – and think about these things, my friend.

“When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ ” (Luke 7:13, NKJV)

“Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ ”
(Mark 1:41, NKJV)

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, NKJV)


One thought on “Let the Smoke & Ash Collect

  1. Hi Emily,

    I hope it’s not creepy for me to find your blog, but I just wanted to say that I love this post. And also, since I (sadly!) won’t be seeing you again, at least for awhile, I wanted to be able to follow your awesome adventures. I have to say – Amazing Grace is probably my favorite movie, too. And what you are doing sound so much like what I am interested in, which is sad that I didn’t know all semester. (http://www.ijm.org/ is the direction I am thinking right now.)

    Okay, long comment. I hope you have a fantastic mayterm with Heather, and then enjoy your travels! :)

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