NOTE: I am reposting Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” with the comments I made about justice. Enjoy Dr. King’s letter read with photos and videos from his life.
A few days ago some of us saw the underbelly of Birmingham, where women are sold and prostituted, where life is valued only for what another can gain from its abuse. We saw only the tip of the iceberg. We didn’t see the many tucked away, hidden from our view, being kept against their will, to be used by the highest bidder, or anyone willing to pay.
Regardless of where you live injustice is alive and well. Here in Birmingham injustice continues to thrive, even though a little over fifty years ago, Martin Luther King sat in a Birmingham jail and wrote, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. . . We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
What King and others brought to light was racial injustice, and because they forced the city to see the ugliness of hatred and prejudice many changes have taken place over these years. But there are other injustices that continue to stay hidden, and one of the worst is the growing sin of human exploitation, often seen in the trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual abuse.
We as believers must be deeply offended, so offended that we are driven to get involved, to force the ugliness of human exploitation out into the open where it can be cured. How can we keep a young mother with four young children from having to dance in a strip club? How can immigrants have the resources needed so the few things they have are not stripped away by those gaining power over them? How can the poor be given options for a better life and how can the wealthy be turned from exploiting to redeeming?
New Hope Publishers and our parent company WMU are beginning a journey that will open eyes and hopefully force us out of our comfortable blindness to see what we do not want to know. If we do our job right, we will create tension, we as believers will be embarrassed at our lack of concern, but in the end we not be able to stay blinded, and we will not be able to keep from acting. And some of us will have the courage to do whatever it takes to break down the doors of exploitation “to bring the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7 NRSV).