Blood:Water Mission
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International Justice Mission

Friday, March 27, 2009

Philosophy Phriday

Here are a few random, only slightly connected, tidbits of information that I both want to pass on and to talk about. What are your thoughts?

International Justice Mission: Global Prayer Gathering
I just posted a bit over on I2A about IJM's Global Prayer Gathering, going on this weekend in the D.C. area. I wish I could be there - it sounds phenomenal! In any case, if you're like me and interested in IJM's work but cannot go to the GPG, you can geek out and follow the live blogging from the event. I'll be checking in all weekend.

Sara blogs
Well, she's gonna give it the old college try. Sara Groves, as many of you know, is one of my all time favorite artists. I love her music, and the thoughts she shares in interviews have always made me wish that she blogged. Well, she didn't want to, but to really share her experiences in Rwanda Sara has decided to start her own blog. Go check it out. With a little encouragement, maybe she'll get the hang of it and blog even more.

Cowboy tactics?
Speaking of IJM . . . I mentioned (on I2A and I think here as well) a nice article that was published in the New Yorker about IJM and their work. One of the big problems that some people have with IJM is the way they organize and work with local authorities to raid brothels and businesses that hold people (children and adults) in slavery. The critics label these as cowboy tactics (and directly or indirectly relate them to the Bush administration and their initiation of the war in Iraq) and allege that such strong-arm tactics terrorize the "rescued" prostitutes and slaves and open them to abuses from the local authorities. And, to be fair, there is some truth in that. Gary Haugen (IJM's founder and president) likes to describe the law systems of most developing nations as remnants of colonial legal systems that were designed to keep the local population in check and under the authority of the colonial power. IJM works to change this, but many places the police are seen as at least as bad an option as the brothel owners who enslave and torture the women and children they sell.

The question remains, though: what are they (IJM) and we to do? America is currently demonized for our perceived cowboy tactics (rightly or wrongly, we can debate about for years to come). My experience with the people at IJM (albeit limited) is that then are people of peace and of prayer. They cannot simply stand by and watch as people live in slavery (no more than some people could in the U.S. 150 years ago, or in England 200 years ago). They seek out men of peace in troubled areas, to effect change in corrupt and misapplied legal systems. Every person who works for IJM probably spends more time in prayer every day than most Christians do in a month. And, to be fair, some of their critics will never be happy unless IJM concedes to their thesis that the violence and abuse inherent in the sex slavery they fight stems mainly from the criminalization of prostitution itself. In other words, as long as IJM wishes to remain a Christian-based organization, they will also have detractors.

What are your thoughts on this?

So what?
I heard this interview on NPR a couple of weeks ago, and it has really stuck with me. They are talking with author Thomas Ricks, whose new book finds little to like about the ability of the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, no matter what political party is in control of the White House. His big point is that, from his analysis, withdrawal in the near future (at least the next few years) will almost inevitably lead to genocide in Iraq. A debatable point, but one worthy of discussion.

He mentions, though, that as he recently talked about this to a group of people one person in the audience interjected "So what?" and another chimed in "Genocide happens all the time" (you can here this at about the 5:20 mark in the interview). The audacity, the selfishness, the carelessness of those remarks struck me and sticks with me. Several who commented online took the view that genocide is simply a way of life in some cultures, something that Western culture does not understand, and that Westerners should not try to force change on these other cultures.

Okay, honestly, I cannot express the anger that burns in me when I think of this callous attitude. It happens? So what? Nonsense! Yes, it does happen - in fact, there are multiple places (Darfur, parts of DRC, etc.) where it is happening today, and is being ignored by the global community. And their response is let it!?!? It's too much for us to handle, so let's just ignore it? Maybe it will die off on its own, eventually? I wonder how their thoughts might run if, for example, extreme racial violence broke out in LA or New York, with one group purposefully and indiscriminately inflicting terror and killing off another group? Would their blasé attitude change if it affected them, their families, or their friends?

Okay, so I've been ranting a little bit in this post. Maybe my thinking is off-base in some way on these topics. Maybe there are some things I just don't understand? I know that to be true. Does anyone have any thoughts on these topics? I'd love to hear them.

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Jun said...

I myself never would want genocide or any other kind of killing especially children and innocent people. I am a Filipino and I always admire Americans who espouse the concept of compassion and love. That's all I can say.

Douglas said...

I'm really impressed with IJM, myself. They are doing a very difficult job as best they can. There is no perfect way to work within the legal and cultural framework in which they are working. The problem is overwhelming, but they are doing what they can to help.

I think you're right to that there will always be conflict between Christians and other people in the human rights industry who favor a legalized sex worker industry. In my opinion, people who talk about legalizing sex work are living in a flick. Common sense and social science both tell us that these women have no respect for their customers, and for good reason. In my admittedly limited experience, prostitutes know that Johns objectify them and consider them little more than a shapely hunk of meat. When I was in college I spoke with a female prostitute who when she learned that I was saving myself for the woman I would marry said most emphatically, repeating herself and nodding her head aggressively for emphasis, that she really respected my decision. When I offered her my Bible later in the conversation, she broke down into uncontrollable sobs and said that it was "the nicest thing" anyone had ever done for her. It floored me. I still find it flabbergasting that the simple gift of a book was so appreciated. It really showed the depth of her hunger for and lack of authentic love in her life. She had sex with so many men, yet none of them really cared for her as a person. It broke my heart to see her go off to meet her “brother” at a seedy hotel later that night. Prostitution (and pornography) should be made illegal. They do incalculable damage to men and women. IJM is right in pursuing raids of brothels, especially those that subject children to rape. I don’t see how a Christian group can just stand by in good conscience and do nothing when that is going on.

Anyway, this comment is way too long. I also agree with what you wrote about genocide in Iraq and our responsibilities there.


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