Overcoming discriminations because of someone’s age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic inequality so all people can live a healthy, happy life.
It’s a harrowing reality that there are more slaves today than at any other time in history. 24.9 million in forced labour slavery today, of which 1 in 4 are children. At root these issues represent an age old challenge - Who is my neighbour and on what basis do we value them? In this context, Jesus’ call for us to love one another as we’d wish to be loved, requires radical action.
Leaving No One Behind by United Nations
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11
The root of injustice is the exploitation of difference and it is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. In the western world inequality of wealth and income is widening and society is feeling its impact. Globally, division by race, tribe, caste or religion is dangerously commonplace. As mass migration grows, problems in one area can quickly lead to issues in another, often heightened by the erecting of further barriers, between the resident and the stranger. Goal 10 seeks to address these key issues both within and between nations.
At root these issues represent an age old challenge – Who is my neighbour and on what basis do we value one another? It is sometimes said that strongly held convictions, especially if they are faith based ones, are part of the problem and what is required is simply a greater degree of tolerance. But if that means all views and opinions are not only welcome but essentially equal, how might we justify challenging anyone who suggests intolerance is acceptable on any basis whatever? How can we counter the all too frequent demonization of the ‘other’, the very heart of the Good Samaritan story and stand up for those ‘neighbours’ without merit, however it might be judged, who can’t work because of disability or other disadvantage? What is really required is a strong, objective basis on which to justify universal equality, regardless of a person’s background, ability or contribution. Christian faith, often very imperfectly applied, has been and remains that standard in many parts of the world, and with good reason. The Bible has both a high yet realistic vision of human beings, made in the image of God yet all fundamentally flawed, capable of sublime good and devastating evil. Our value belongs not in what we do or achieve, how much we own or earn, which group we adhere to, but in who we are. Verses like the one quoted above reflect a rich stream of Biblical testimony which have had a profound impact and been a great inspiration to many over centuries. In our own age Goal 10 recognises the challenge of these issues afresh, focussing especially on the poorest 40% in every country, seeking to ensure that financial growth among them is above average. Christian faith and Christian people have a unique and necessary contribution, to speak and act, for the love of all our neighbours.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- What is the Biblical reason that Christians have always been so active What are the dangers of societies becoming more divided? What evidence do you see for this?
- Aside from economic dividing lines, what others are becoming increasingly significant?
- What challenges or barriers did Jesus seek to overcome?
- What is the role of the church today in ending slavery, injustice and inequality?
+ GOAL 10 IN ACTION
Imagine carrying back-breaking loads of bricks in scorching heat for 16 hours a day without pay. Imagine an employer who beats you and threatens to kill your family if you run away.
When it comes to Goal 10 - to reduce income inequality, IJM believes that those who are trapped in slavery are suffering the greatest economic inequality. They cannot access programmes to overcome poverty. They are excluded from social and political inclusion. Their children – sometimes dozens in a single factory – have no hope of schooling. Tackling inequality means fighting for freedom and justice so that employment, education, housing, and healthcare are available to all. IJM is a human rights organisation that fights slavery and violence across the world. Their global team includes lawyers, social workers, community activists and others. They rescue thousands of people from slavery and violence every year and transform broken justice systems.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Become an IJM Freedom Partner through a monthly donation.
Local – Be vigilant for anyone you suspect might be in bonded labour. This is when someone borrows money they cannot repay, and are forced to work to pay off the debt.