April 23-29, 2012
Editorial: Do you still think it’s none of your business?
Translated by Lydia Ma
In one recent episode of the X Games, an athlete used a 2 cm wide nylon soft rope to cross the Enzi Grand Canyon in China at a height of 1,800 meters above sea level. Though such an exhilarating performance was an awesome sight for viewers from around the world, another hair-raising performance has also been broadcast for viewers in Taiwan, albeit without the same level of admiration and applause.
From policies surrounding national defense, disposal of nuclear waste, and US beef imports, to recent urban renewal policies that stirred controversy, the Ma administration has not only gone out on a limb and turned its back on the 23 million people of Taiwan, but also Mr. Ma has put the welfare and safety of the nation on the line.
Faced with these national realities and embarrassing predicaments involving our national defense, diplomatic relations, national economy, and more, should Christians and churches merely seek out the Lord and pray for their daily needs? Or should we seek and pray to work alongside our Lord so that God’s kingdom can be manifested in our world?
Perhaps we can find the answer to these questions by observing the life of Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer – once known as the moral conscience of the Protestant church in Germany. During the time Hitler was in power in Germany, Bonhoeffer noted that church meetings had become very self-serving because many church leaders had become so self-centered that they no longer contended with anti-Semitic laws set by the Nazi government that violated the civil rights of Jewish people. For this reason, he often reminded Christians of their social responsibilities by quoting Proverbs 31:8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and for the rights of all who are destitute.”
In response to what was happening at the time, Bonhoeffer said that it was a sin for the church to watch the weakest and the most defenseless of all people die under Hitler’s regime and do nothing in response, especially when many of these were fellow Christians. Though Bonhoeffer was later sentenced to death and executed by hanging on the Sunday after Easter in 1945 for refusing to join the army and for treason, he said, “This is the end. But for me, this is the beginning of life.”
Bonhoeffer set an example for all Christians on how to respond to evil governing authorities by standing by his Christian convictions and modeling Christ’s example of sacrifice and service. After all, Jesus once said that he had not come to be served, but rather, to serve others and give his life for all of humanity.
Rev. Dr. Milo Thornberry’s message last week on the topic “People I’ve Met on the ‘Jericho’ Road” underscored how his Christian convictions played a key role in his mission to advance human rights and democracy in Taiwan. He shared this message to encourage Christians in Taiwan to respond to the social issues happening around them and lay down their lives to advance justice – much like Christ exemplified with his life.
Responding to people’s well-intentioned advice to him that he should stay out of a foreign country’s political affairs, Thornberry replied: “I love my country and I thank my church for sending me to Taiwan. But my conscience tells me that I cannot stand by and see these injustices happen without doing something about them. If I ignore what the Americans are doing, it’d be tantamount to saying I agree with what they are doing.”
In short, when a “foreigner” feels compelled to act based on his religious convictions, sense of justice and conscience, how can the Taiwanese people do any less for the land that nurtured and nourished them? We are thankful that God has blessed Taiwanese Christians to the extent that most of us have more than the average person in Taiwan when it comes to material goods. But perhaps this very blessing has become our loss because such wealth has desensitized us from the plight of others and we have forgotten to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”