As part of the Fellowship curriculum, we have some required reading, and this week we started reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shaine Claiborne. Many people have recommended this book to me, so I am excited to finally read it. I’m only in chapter 5 right now, so I don’t want to give a review of the whole book. I do, however, want to share one passage that I found very convicting:
“[Let’s] not get stuck in guilt. Most good things begin with a little guilt, but they never end there. We are all bound up in the filthy system, and if you find yourself particularly bound, take courage, as you will then have more grace as you liberate others” (31-32).
I’ve blogged before about guilt, and how I think it’s both important to recognize but dangerous. I think it’s important that I, as someone who has led a very privileged life, recognize that my lifestyle—the clothes I buy, the food I eat, etc.—has been part of the mechanism of consumerism that leads to the exploitation of people in vulnerable situations. And I think it’s appropriate to feel a little guilty about that, because the guilt is a motivator to me to change the status quo (because, in the words of Dr. Horrible, “the status is NOT quo”). But it’s important not to let that guilt become paralyzing. Guilt, like pain, is an indicator that something is not right. As such, it should serve as a motivator to make things right
I have often been guilty (redundancy intended) of dwelling on my guilt to a point where it can become paralyzing. And this is something I need to work on, because it is counter-productive to the abolitionist mission. It’s important to recognize where we, as a culture, have failed and have allowed injustice to thrive. However, if we allow ourselves, as Claiborne puts it, to “get stuck in guilt,” we will not be able to move forward. So rather than wallowing in feelings of guilt, let us (and I’m speaking to myself as much as I am to all of you) take action, and work to make things right, for in so doing we will demonstrate our compassion.