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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Social genocide

Joseph Barry is a student in the Disability Studies MA program at Cal Baptist university.  He's a sharp guy.  In a recent paper, he wrote the following.

Wolfensberger states, "We need to take a stand against the genocides of our time" (p. 101).  Not only should we take a stand against the documented genocides of past and present, but we should also continue to stand against the social genocides that exist as well.  The placement of values on persons with disabilities based on their disability status and the resulting objectification of them continues to have damaging effects on such persons.  The Church can be a leader or a hindrance in this battle and its role cannot be under emphasized.  Not only should all of us address basic issues one at a time, we should do so without wasting another minute." (Barry, J. Objectification and Value Assignment: Christian Responses to Disability, 2012).

Barry's statement is perceptive and powerful on so many levels.  We typically think of genocide as the outright taking of life, but the term might be tweaked in the manner in which he did.  Social genocide is a form of life taking that too many societies either overtly or purposefully have participated in.  Clearly I should do what I can to influence society such that it doesn't destroy people socially.  I need to do that.
But his comment about the church is straightforward.  The church can be a leader or a hindrance.  I believe at times it has been both.  I believe now it is being both.  The first step in change is awareness.  I have often stated that the first step in churches developing what has been called disability ministry is repentence.  I don't want to be a part of the problem.

I am reminded of the Luke 14 passage about the master telling the servant "Go out to the roads and contry lanes and make them dome in, so that my house will be full."  Earlier the master has said, "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame."  The servant is told to make them come in (other versions say compel them to come in).  Perhaps they need to be made or compelled because they have been the perennial victims of social genocide.  How many times must I be killed socially before I no longer believe you?  Or perhaps I am just socially dead and need to be awakened socially in order to drag my socially deadened self to a place where there is social life.

If someone were to look at your life, would you be on the side of the social killers or the social life givers?