I was reading again. This time, an article by a University of Chicago law professor about the challenges faced by “human rights advocates” on today’s global stage. The prof noted that during the cold war, we in the West tended to assume that global citizens all longed for “human rights” but were simply suppressed by authoritarian regimes. Since that time, however, many of these regimes have embraced some form of liberal democracy, but this has not been followed by an attendant change in human rights values. It turns out that countries have other views about such rights that don’t necessarily conform to Western Enlightenment ideals. China, for example, while striving slowly for greater freedom, doesn’t seem to trust the level of “freedom” we enjoy here–they have different values about authority, family, and the like.
The point: it’s hard to control it. Probably impossible. Even high-volume cries about human rights can’t make populations embrace it. They have to figure it out the “hard way.” In the meantime, western progressive democracies can, as Churchill said, “light a candle” rather than “curse the darkness.” In other words, go set an example.
In the churches this is and will continue to be true. We can’t guarantee outcomes in other congregations–souls saved, high levels of maturity, etc. We can talk about it, spur each other on–all to some effect. But the most important thing we can do in Seattle is simply set an example. That’s true congregationally, and even in each Bible Talk.
Who’s willing to step up?