This article is about you, and me. It’s about all of us. Because we believe that when we come together change can happen.
We saw it last week.
A distressing video of children being held in cages with the soundtrack of a little boy crying ‘Papa, Papa, Papa’ over and over again started to circulate on social media. Then there were other photos and videos, news reports of thousands of children being separated from their families at the US-Mexico border. And the world began to rage.
Musicians, politicians, former first ladies, church leaders, parents, students, ordinary people all spoke out. Petitions were signed, letters written, phone calls made. A news reporter broke down into tears on live TV. One US senator stood outside a Walmart store converted into a centre housing hundreds of children and very graciously, but persistently asked to be let inside. Although he was refused entry his shaky, unpolished Facebook Live video of the entire 25 minute scene went viral and to date has been watched 2.2 million times with 44,000 shares and nearly 30,000 comments.
Together, people had pushed and pushed for change and there was power in this united, collective voice. The tide turned and the US President was left with no choice but to sign an executive order to end the separations. This is the first time President Trump has reversed a policy since taking office nearly 18 months ago.
The African-American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass said: ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.’
People who hold power don’t just change their minds particularly when it is something they feel strongly about. They do not give in until there is enough demand; not until they have heard the stories and seen the images of those affected, when people have called them to account and questioned their morality, when challenge is tirelessly brought, when voices are raised that won’t be silent until change happens.
The decision last week isn’t the first time we’ve seen how powerful it is when people come together to campaign. Take the Paris Climate Agreement – the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. Something that many people never thought would happen. Millions of people around the world petitioned their parliamentary representatives to take action; there were marches all over the world calling on leaders to act responsibility and in cities all over the UK, thousands marched to speak up for the love of the planet. These acts did not go unnoticed by those making the key decisions.
When the historic climate deal was agreed in Paris in December 2015, Christina Figures the UN’s Executive Secretary on Climate Change pointed at the conference delegates and mouthed ‘You, you, you’. She was saying to those diplomats, negotiators and advocates ‘You did this’. Not just the politicians, not just the prime ministers and presidents but everyone who marched, raised their voice, signed a petition, everyone who pushed made that deal happen.
We’re seeing this kind of people power all over the place. The devastating scenes David Attenborough showed in Blue Planet II prompted an outburst of questions, petitions and action on single-use plastics and the government are already looking to ban plastic straws and cotton buds, as well consulting on whether to introduce tax on single-use plastic.
Thousands of people also signed a recent Tearfund petition calling on the government to help developing countries tackle problems of waste which have serious health and environmental consequences on people living in poverty. Speaking out together made a massive difference and the Prime Minister since announced financial support of £61.4 million for these countries.
Fast fashion, food waste and meat production are all issues gaining momentum because people like you and me are asking more questions than ever before; and refusing to be fobbed off with simple answers. We’re taking action and learning to come together around these critical points of our generation because we believe a better future is possible for every single person.
The journey towards more justice, equality and sustainability is far from over. Tonight children will still sleep apart from their families in Texas and the impact of climate change continues to be felt by the most vulnerable. It takes guts and determination to join in with Jesus’s mission of justice and restoration but he has promised that his Spirit will be on us. He has anointed us ‘to proclaim good news to the poor… bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Isaiah 61).
We are not alone as we push, campaign and petition. We agitate, act and dream together with God – and it is only in working together and with Him, that change can happen. We are believers of a better destiny – and united in our faith.
Change can and will happen. Together We Are.
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