Oppression 101

Living in the Spirit
August 21, 2017

Scripture Reading: Exodus 1:8-2:10

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them. –Exodus 1:8-14

Follow the money is the phrase often included in crime investigation stories. It is also good advice when trying to weed out oppression. Oppression happened in Egypt in antiquity; it is happening in the USA today.  Immigration laws need to be crisp, efficient and based on areas of the economy where there are not enough workers to meet demand. Such laws also must recognize that workers who come into our country and seek to stay, just like those already here, function best within a supportive family structure.

The reason we do not have that crisps, efficient system is the reality that undocumented workers stream into our country to escape all different kinds of hell and because of that are willing to work for less than would be required if they come in legally. It also means undocumented workers can be hired for jobs for which there is no shortage of local workers. Both sets of people, the undocumented and the locally unemployed or underemployed, are being oppressed by those whose only desire is to see their profits increase. The situation is further exacerbated by the principalities and powers turning these two groups against each other resulting in the legislative and administrative stalemate that makes it all possible.

When God created the world and all that is in it, God called it good. Humans created borders. As humans, we certainly are called to use prudently the resources God provides for the good of all. Borders and governments are neither good nor bad unless we make them so. When greed overcomes the love of our neighbor, we fail our calling.

Prayer: God of All, forgive us when we allow greed to overpower our ability to love our neighbors whether we are the direct benefactors of the greed or complacent by ignoring its existence. Open avenues of advocacy for us as we work toward the good of all. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.