Skip to main content

A Meditation: March 1, 2015 (Lent 3)


I thirst for …

Access to clean, safe, and affordable water is a basic human right essential for a healthy population, environment, and economy. Not everyone gets that right. The Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ first coined a term to explain why. In 1987, they came out with a report and coined the term, “environmental racism” Environmental discrimination can be defined as corporate and government actions and decisions that result in the unequal exposure of people of color and low-income people to environmental dangers that threaten their physical, social, economic, or environmental health and well-being.

The Commission found a link between a person’s race and one’s likelihood of living near a hazardous waste facility. This ground-breaking report prompted numerous other studies that supported the UCC’s conclusions. Evidence mounted quickly saying that people of color and low-income communities bear a lop-sided share of environmental dangers and thus are victims of environmental racism.  While many are quick to conclude that communities of color are targeted solely because of their generally low-income, many of demonstrate that race is more of a factor than class. In other words, if one were to compare a middle-class community of color to a low-income white community, and look at which community is more likely to have a hazardous waste facility sited there, the middle-class community of color would have a greater chance of being targeted for such a facility. In fact, in some cases, race is a more significant indicator of pollution burdens than income, poverty, childhood poverty, education, employment or home ownership.

For me, this is a faith issues. It is a thirst issue. Are we thirsty for justice? If we are thirsting for God to fill us, mold us and use us, are we also thirsting for all people to experience the same blessings? If others do not receive them, then my faith compels me to do my part to spread God’s love and compassion cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. And for me, it starts locally. People of faith are called to care for all of our neighbors, regardless of their race, their income level, or their life circumstances. Can we look around us, during these dry and withered times, in our communities, with our neighbors, and say, “We thirst for righteousness, God.” When we say, as a church, that Black Lives matter, it means opening our eyes to these kinds of problems and working for change. If we say we are an anti-racist church, it means we pay attention when American Indian lands are victims of toxic assault. Today, hundreds of Indian Nations are being approached by both the waste disposal industry and the United States Government in search of new dumping grounds for the unwanted toxic, nuclear, medical and solid waste of industrial society. I read a story of Latino students in a school in California who were exposed to chemical pesticides in their schools. Officials knew about it and covered up the health risks. My faith tells me that God’s reign isn’t about supporting systems that make children sick and marginalized communities pay the price for economic progress. My faith tells me that when I thirst for justice, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

  • I wanted to check all of this out on a local level. So I went online to check the environmental scorecard for pollution in Maryland. Here is what I found:The worst is Hareford County, north of Baltimore to the State line. Hareford County has a lot of non-white, low income, lower-educated people who are exposed to high levels of pollution and toxins.
  • Montgomery County is more or less equally dispersed between race and class. If anything, white and high income families and children above poverty in Montgomery County have higher exposure to toxic chemical releases.

Which gets me to one more issue. It’s the difference between equity and justice. Sometimes, governments try to fix social problems by working for equity. In the case of environmental racism, it means that everyone share more equally in the risks. No one group of people should be singled out. So, as numbers show in Montgomery County, everyone gets poisoned more or less equally? That does not make sense to me. We are not talking about environmental equity. We are talking about environmental justice.

There is a fundamental difference between “poisoning people equally” and “stop poisoning people, period!”

Thirsting for justice, thirsting for righteousness means seeing the blessedness in each us. A blessedness that is diverse and wonderful. A blessedness that insists that all lives demand dignity and respect. A blessedness that offers all people a vision of who they are created to be.

If God is the source of our life, so let us worship God by living rightly. If God is the source of love, so let us worship God by loving genuinely. If God is the ground of being, so let us worship God by taking care of the earth that grounds us. If God is just, so let us worship God by thirsting for justice.

SOURCES:
http://www.ejnet.org/ej/ejlaw.pdf
http://www.ejnet.org/ej/principles.pdf
http://www.ucc.org/environmental-ministries_environmental-racism
http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/environmental-racism
http://scorecard.goodguide.com/community/ejsummary.tcl?fips_county_code=24031&lang=eng#dist

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sermon for March 12, 2017

The World Needs our Feet




Here are some of my favorite bumper stickers . . . · I’m not gaining weight, I’m retaining food!. · I brake for no apparent reason. · Forget about World Peace. Visualize using your turn signal. · He who laughs last, thinks slowest. · Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math. · Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. · I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you. · Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let him sleep. · Hard work pays off in the future. But laziness pays off right now. · It’s lonely at the top, but you eat better. · Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else. · There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can’t. · Do you follow Jesus this close?
Some bumper stickers are funny, some are informative, some make you think, others make you mad. In any case, they’re usually a reflection of direction the person in life is traveling. When it comes to bumper stickers, the words on the outside of a car are often an indicator …

Sermon for February 5, 2017

Orienteering 100: Finding the Morningstar

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star. Rev. 22:16

I can’t find my car anymore. It’s a new thing for me lately. I park somewhere in a large lot, like a mall, I go inside to shop, and when it’s time to go home, I can’t remember where I parked. I know the general vicinity where I parked, but it takes me a while to locate my car. The other night I was at the mall, and I could not find my way out of a department store. I knew about where my car was parked, but I could not find the door I entered the mall through. I ended up just going outside and walking the perimeter of the mall until I found where I parked. If it happened just once, I’d say it was a fluke. But, since it’s happened four or five times over the past two months, I think something is going on. I don’t think its dementia. I think it’s a crisis of awareness. Lately, m…

Sermon for January 15, 2017

Then Jesus Turned
The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following,…