Queen Elizabeth II lived with "depth, breadth, generosity."
The world has become so very interdependent, complex, and confusing. Increased global awareness of overbearing actions of countries and groups toward less-economically and technologically developed ones goes back at least to the end of World War II, continues with the flag of British imperialism being lowered over one colony after another, on to a slightly new configuration and terminology—British Commonwealth of Nations. Civil rights and voting rights constitutional amendments in the USA, fragile class, economic, and ethnic "integration" across the globe, renaming sports teams and other organizations… the quite recent Black Lives Matter. Can we sum up our uneven global, national, institutional, ecclesiastical, and individual progress with "When You Know Better, You Do Better," because we can't rewind history, and adequate monetary and other reparations remain a huge question mark? Or is "when you know better, you do better," far too generous?
Empire, justice, and God's gracious generosity are pervasive scriptural themes. God calls us to claim our divine image and serve with loving justice. God calls us to resist and help dismantle structures that enslave humans and creation, that impede and destroy life, that cause death. God calls us to practice resurrection!
When we know better, we do better, yet how do we interact with and serve individuals, communities, and nations who clearly have less advantage in terms of overall infrastructure and natural resources?
Only considering close to home, is it possible for an individual, work team, or church group from an affluent suburb to go into a needy place and offer gifts like home repairs, academic tutoring, microloans, community gardens, without attitudes of condescension? Is it possible for the giver to revel in feeling-good generous without diminishing the recipients' humanity?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of "God's unfathomable condescension" in Jesus' incarnation, crucifixion, and death. Jesus asks us to bear his cross, but is condescension Jesus' alone because he lived as God embodied? I don't know.
But I do know being generous with my unique gifts not only feels great, it's a necessary way I respond to God's generosity, and I can't be whole and well unless I use my gifts, skills and education to serve to God's glory.
I also know national, regional, and local governments have become very aware of the need to undo as much past violence and degradation as possible. Less-developed and still-developing regions and peoples can't be whole and well unless someone helps them unlock their potential. That's going to include generous undoing of effects and fallout of past actions that often were meant to be generous, yet definitely didn't turn out that way.
That's my five minute long free ramble for this week. Thanks for listening!