I've spent months pondering a particular issue of power and oppression that has plagued not only our churches, but our society for centuries. In fact, most issues of power and oppression which we deal with today, have been around since humanity fell to sin and lost the perfect and intimate relationship with God which provided a model for relationships with one another. Interestingly, what I thought would end up being a "freeing" study, has, unfortunately revealed more clearly the sad reality that no matter how far we believe we have progressed as a developed, or modern, or democratic, or even Christian society, we still participate in and often unknowingly continue practices which perpetuate racism, sufferage or class prejudices.
I have heard testimonies and examples where people have felt the abuses of power or oppression. It is something most of us have a hard time comprehending and most people in my circles rarely encounter in a personal way. In fact I have heard individuals deny the fact that oppression still occurs, for we are a free nation and our Constitution ensures the freedom of all people to seek happiness and enjoy the rights guaranteed them.
But what the Constitution cannot guarantee is that we as humans will overcome our tendancy to desire superiority. We have resolved ourselves to the concept of freedom, but I doubt equality will ever truly be understood or practiced in our society. Oppression is something that occurs not only on a personal level, but is ingrained within systems and institutions. I can now understand more personally how feelings and practices of oppression persist. Actions as simple as discreet manipulation; ignoring or pretending not to see someone; saying things like, "I don't see color," or "women are equal to men;" contriving reasons to dismiss someone from a particular position, exclusive comraderie, are all ways humans have knowingly or unknowingly applied power to ensure that, though we say all people are free, we are not all equal. I have encountered the painful realities of some of these situations and have become much more sympathetic and attuned to various other forms of oppression.
People who say all people are free and equal in American society are either naive or choosing to perpetuate discrimination. The root of inequality is lack of mutual respect, thus, equality will forever be an issue of justice, one Christians should be on the forefront of naming and fighting. For love is the root of respect and Christ calls us to practice radical love for all people.