Sunday, December 20, 2009
The Blind Side
The Difference Between Charity and Justice
When watching The Blind Side, the unlikely story of Michael Oher and the kindliness of Leigh Ann Tuohy (played respectively by Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock), it was heartwarming to see such Christian charity played out on the silver screen.
However, it saddened me that I couldn't emulate the charity since I am not rich and do not live in a big enough house like Leigh Ann Tuohy. I couldn't really do what she did since I don't have the means to carry out such charity.
And it might be easy for me to disassociate myself from the lead characters and their generosity had it all just been an act of Christian charity.
But The Blind Side is about so much more than charity. It's about social justice. What's the difference? Charity is when you impact another's life... justice is about letting othes impact you for life. Charity means giving to those in need, but justice means working hard so that those needs no longer exist.
At first, the Tuohy family acted out of good charity, perhaps to ease their own personal struggles with racism in the South (as Michael Oher is one of the only African Americans in his school). But over time, Michael has an impact on Leigh Ann that changes her life. Not only does she let the homeless kid stay longer than expected in her house, she goes deeper - visiting his old neighborhood "on the other side of town" and seeking out Michael's mother to see how she can help him and his plight.
At first it was charity, and then it grew into a march towards social justice.
It might be hard to identify with the rich Tuohy family and their charity (or it might suffice to look upon their actions from afar and admire their benevolence), but everyone - regardless of how rich or poor they are - can act with justice.
What issue or cause will impact you? What injustice will you stand against? What means so much to you that it will change your life - so that justice might be done for others?
Going to a soup kitchen or donating clothing to GoodWill are great charitable works - but justice asks us to go further. How do we work at eradicating poverty in our local area so that soup kitchens and GoodWill thrift stores are no longer necessary? To make that happen, it will require that our own lives will be changed, uprooted, and impacted.
Perhaps there are other issues that you feel passionately about. Whatever the cause might be, we are challenged to do more than charity. We are called to act with justice.
It might seem impossible - to affect so much change in the world. It can seem overwhelming, but The Blind Side shows us that one act of justice can go a long way (and that's all that God asks us to do). The Jewish Talmud offers this bit of advice:
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justice now. Love mercy now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you fee to abandon it."
Have a charitable heart, but have hands and feet ready to move for justice. Like Leigh Ann Tuohy, it will transform you and change you - and that's when God is at work.