“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Segregation feeds self-interest and integration fights self-interest"

At the meeting of the ministry directors of Joni and Friends today, Doug Mazza, CEO, made a very powerful statement.  He said,
"Segregation feeds self-interest and integration fights self-interest"


Such a powerful statement that cuts to to the quick about what are too often the motivations for segregation.  If I don't have you with me, you cannot make demands on me, so I can continue on in my own self-focussed self-interest.  I can claim that your segregation is in some way what is best for you, but in reality it is all about me. I will not need to change to accommodate you.  I will not be inconvenienced by you and your need to have me do something for you.  I won't have to change my programs, or my schedule, or make room for you in my car.  I don't need to find out about your life, the challenges you might face from agencies or the community and that makes me happy because I am focussed on self-interest.

Integration truly is the enemy of self-interest because if you are with me, I have to consider your wants, your needs, YOU, in the things that I do. Your presence, integrated with me, will make me feel uncomfortable about my affluence if I you are poor.  Your presence, integrated with me, will make me worry about whether you are being treated well by the community.  Your presence, integrated with me, will make me wonder whether you have friends and whether I perhaps could be your friend.  I start thinking about all kinds of things that take my mind off of myself. 

I have heard people at times complain about their inability to worship when people are present who are typically segregated because of their social skills, or behavior, or even appearance.  This should point to the fact that even worship is at times all about self-interest, once again.  I should be able to worship in the manner in which I have become accustomed because you have not been with me.  Don't know where you have been, but it is better for me if you are there.  Rather than coming to the inclusive definition of worship that would come with integration, I prefer the self-centered notion of worship where you are segregated.

When I think about the example of Jesus and the people who crowded him, the people to whom hs spoke, the people he interacted with and healed, I can only think it must have been a very integrated, third world group.  Yeah, people would tell others to "Shut up!" but Jesus would call their name and ask them to come and meet him.  I want to be like that.  I want my life to be integrated as much as I am can: not choosing to segregate myself from others out of my own self-interest.  I wish I was better at that then I am.  I want my lifestyle of inclusiveness to be a soldier that is truly fighting the battle of defeating my self-interest because anything that can help me to do that, will make me more like Jesus, will develop my faith, will model the reality of how life should be.  In the same way that devalued people need to be with me, I need to be with devalued people.  Not because of what I can do for them, but for what they can do for me in defeating my desire for comfort, desire to be left alone, desire for my own self-interest.

Memorize Doug's phrase.  It will impact your day to day life and how you understand the life of the Church,

McNair

12 comments:

happymomlori said...

I too believe the statement is profound. I needed to hear this. My hope is others will hear this too; and so I shared the link on my personal FB wall.

Thank you for this writing.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the focus of psychology and psychological study in modern times is so focused on the self, self-development and self-interest that we as a society have forgotten or even purely and SELFishly overlooked what the Bible has taught us that too much interest in the self can do. What happens to compassion, empathy, love of other, tolerance, acceptance etc when too much emphasis is placed on the self? As you have suggested in this blog, these concepts/feelings become devalued because they are not convenient to the self. As Christian's we need to be aware of the dangers of placing too much emphasis on the self. "For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him." Matthew 27:18 NIV. While the aforementioned verse is an extreme example, it serves to illustrate how a lack of concern for others, compassion and willingness to do what is right and not what is easiest for one's self can lead to pure self-interest. The effects of self-interest can be catastrophic to say the least.

Mark said...

Doug's comment exactly expresses the point I have been looking for in working with leadership in our church. We do this much...and yet after 4 years people are amazed to learn there is a place for the devalued here. And so things go on as normal and we feel guilt when we learn we have excluded someone; we didn't mean to do that at all. We haven't learned how to integrate shamelessly.Or perhaps we are still ignorant of the consequenses of the things we do. When we integrate we choose to pay a price of personal freedom, comfort...whatever. Paying that price results in change, something in our life, our community changes. Self-interest is the tender for that exchange. We choose to tell Jesus we want less of us and more of you. I want less of me and more of Him. I get closer to getting it.

mamaporuski said...

Wow, great post! Lord help us be more integrated with everyone created in his image, everyone he found worth dying for!

biblicaljournal said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Just think of what this would do to most typical human services agencies across the country, if they lived by this motto. Most are organized like corporations so that employees climb the ladder right out of the lives of those they are trying to serve!

ashley trotter said...

Sadly what you said about the church is all too true. As I believe Martin Luther King said "11am on a Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America." That was true 60 years ago and it's true today. Oftentimes we find a church that we're "comfortable" in, that meets our needs, that has the most amount of people like us. In contrast, Christ's apostles and followers were quite the motley crew, tax-collectors, ex-pharisees, prostitutes, children, demon possessed. He drew from a wide cross section of society and His ministry was strengthened by it. How much more effective would the Christian church be if they actually practiced inclusivity, going outside their church walls and brining people from all walks of life into the pews? Only by living intentionally and getting to know and love "our neighbors" can we begin to catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God and live fully according to his purposes. Through inclusivity we actually get to know and understand the people we have "feared" for so long. We begin to see them as human beings made in the image of God, who have gifts, talents, and stuggles just like you and me. Honestly, ignoring any one group of people is only a detriment to ourselves because we end up missing out on something God wants to show us and bless us with, and teach us.

Anonymous said...

After reading this post, it was easy to see the influence that self interest has on everyday life. People spend their everyday lives focused on themselves. They either forget the people around them or see the aspect of giving others attention as a chore. When really it just makes you a better person to put others in front of you. It makes you see the world in a new light that not only makes you better around people, but also helps spread that to others. In the church, we listen to the word of God and it continues to explain the importance of reaching out to people that are different. So, to not reach out to the disabled and continue to call yourself a spiritual person is wrong. To be a part of the church and have selfish focuses and not want to spend your time reaching out to others makes you not so much of a spiritual person. The Bible tells us to go out and make disciples of all, so if you continue to seek only people you like or people you see everyday then the world will never be fully reached. Showing that the phrase “segregation feeds self interest and integration fights self interest,” truly stands for disabled people and needs to be addressed by all, especially the church.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this statement. I am a substitute teacher and have had the pleasure of teaching a few SDC classes as well making observations in various schools at various levels of disabilities. I have seen the spectrum of how students are placed and I can report the joys of integration and the horrors of segregation in my short time. When students are integrated, they are not treated in a ‘special’ way; they are treated just like any other student and held to the same level of accountability and expectations, which is often high. They are expected to keep pace with the class and take it upon themselves to seek out any help. This is the reality of the ‘real world’ and that is what should be taught: to teach students to be self-reliant. Instead, I see segregated classrooms in which the objective for the day is simply to “get through the day without hurting anyone.’ I would be offended if I heard a regular-ed teacher saying this, because students there could at least defend themselves, but to hear it from a special-ed teacher, who has students that need help with every aspect of life, was heart wrenching. Maybe these teachers have lost their passion over the years or they simply do not really care. I would pray that the latter is not the truth, in which case, addressing the former is easy. They would need only to open up the Bible and read a few verses to realize the numerous mentions of persons with disabilities, and the various methods mentioned of how to treat them, which start with the Ten Commandments.

prescilla son said...

That was a very well-spoken piece. I never thought about the fact that disabled persons were segregated for our own self-comfort and desire to feel as though we are unneeded. The perspective that you took on this entry really helped me to look at it from a different point of view. We do segregate ourselves to make things easier as well as to feel more content with our lives. Integration would be the best way for myself and others to really get to know those who are devalued in society. Because we separate ourselves from them, we never truly get to know them and the stigmatism sticks. The best way for us to learn how to integrate is to make ourselves more open towards feelings that we may fear, or that make us uncomfortable. In our society it is evident that people do strive to be alone and only go towards what is familiar to them. If society as a whole could truly accept integration with those who are different than them our world will be a better place, however all that we can do now is hope for the best. After taking your class I have a new perspective on those who are disabled and how much they are depreciated, and will try my best to also fight my own self-interest.

Fernanda said...

This subject you talked about is truly one that should bring conviction to everyone's hearts. Our sinful nature is all about the ego and the Word calls us to die to ourselves daily and to always put the interest of others first. The only way we can be the hands and feet of Jesus and love others the way Christ loves them, we must die to our flesh and allow Jesus to manifest Himself through us.

Fernanda said...

This subject you mentioned is truly one that should convict the hearts of Christians. As followers of Christ we are called to die to ourselves daily and put the interest of others first. How can be the Church if we ourselves do not love and serve the was Jesus did when he walked on this earth. Christ was friends with sinners, and social outkasts. Who are we to say we are better? On the contrary, the Lord receieved us in spite of ourselves and welcomed us into His kingdom. As Christians we should do the same.

Anonymous said...

This is true what you said on this blog post. As children of God we are called to die to our flesh and put the interest of others first. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus of we focus on our ego? On the contrary, God calls us to love the way he does. Jesus himself was friends with sinners and social outcasts. Who are we to think we are better? Yet, God welcomed us into his kingdom in spite of ourselves. We should do the same. -Fernanda Perez