We like to claim that the United States is the land of the free, but how free are we? I want to believe that all people, regardless of where they are in their faith journey, want justice for the oppressed but it is a PARTICULAR call on the heart of those who are a follower of YHWH and Jesus. In that vein, I encourage everyone to watch “13th,” a documentary available on Netflix, and keep in your heart these passages.
“Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” Zechariah 7:10 (NIV)
I would wonder what the effect of a ballooning prison population starting in the 70’s might have had on the stability of the family unit; in effect do we not create widows and orphans through incarceration?
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)
God puts all of us together; the cause of the voiceless is the cause of those with a voice. Those with power have a responsibility to act for those who are powerless. We should be defending and upholding the cause of anyone experiencing injustice.
“Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
This is not about anarchy but about making sure that a portion of our society isn’t existing in an oppressed state or being taken advantage of.
“He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Psalm 146:7-9 (NIV)
So what do your actions say about which side you are on. Even something as simple as voting. Where do your votes fall for the widows, the fatherless, the foreigner and the poor?
A few additional articles:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/03/americas-prison-population (Article looking at the current prison population of the United States and what it means)
http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2015.html (2015 Prison Statistics)
http://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2015/08/14/jailsmatter/ (Role jails play in US)
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/the-bail-trap.html?_r=0 (The issues around bail for those in poverty and the ripple effect it has on their lives; many are found innocent)
http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/07/us/kalief-browder-dead/ (Man jailed as teen for 3 years without conviction commits suicide)