Thursday, November 19, 2015

Week Eleven: Living an Ethical Life in an Inherently Broken World

By: Grace Corbin

We were on our way to an organic farm for Development class, discussing the pros and cons of genetically modified food versus organic food when somehow we came upon the topic of knowing when we are doing the ‘right’ thing. Then Linda reminded us of an idea she had previously shared. She talked about the inevitable obligation that we have to certain institutions in the world. Linda told us of a time when she was reading a book about CEOs. The book explained how CEOs really want to do the right thing, but they are bound by law to make a profit for their shareholders. She thought, ‘who are these shareholders that need all of this money?’ Then later she logged onto her IRA account and realized that she was a shareholder. Being the curious and mindful person that she is, she called her IRA company to try and figure out where her money is and what she’s supporting. Later in the conversation she asked her friendly agent, “So, how do I save for retirement and sleep well at night?” And the agent responded, “Oh, honey, that’s the question of the century!”

We spent a morning at Graceland Farms learning about
organic farming for our Development class.
Isn’t that funny? We do our best to try and do the right thing to find out that unseen evils are undermining us. How do we live a TRULY ethical life today, in our inherently broken word, with systems that run on greed? The answer is, simply, we don’t. We cannot live a truly ethical life because we are broken humans living in a broken, messed up world—but we can try our best.

I have been struggling with my faith immensely for a couple of years. There are many different reasons behind that, but part of it has been due to the inaction of the church on social issues. Currently, things are looking up and the church body I ascribe to in the United States is addressing more and more social issues, but it seems Namibia is still seeing a lack of action from the Christian Church on social issues.

My belief in the inaction of the church on social issues was confirmed by a Lutheran pastor in the area, Mr. Gurirab. He spoke to our religion class about the church and social change in Namibia. He talked about how Christianity in Namibia has led people to look more toward salvation and less toward issues in the world. The church doesn’t say a word about socio-economic issues, the 1904-1908 Herero genocide, distribution of wealth, or any issues. He believes church leaders have been quiet due to their involvement in the government. Why do people who are a part of the government not speak up against injustice? Because they are afraid of what the government will do if they have workers who decide to speak about their opposing viewpoints. I don’t want to blame the people, I am blaming the system because it’s run on greed, made to help people who have the most and oppress those that have little. I genuinely believe that most people in the world are trying to do what they believe is the right thing, but they are caught in a system that does not always allow that.

In this world where there is so much violence, hate, fear, and greed, sometimes it’s hard to find all the good things people are doing in their lives in the name of social justice. However, even in the middle of this broken system, people are finding ways to fight for justice. For a Development class earlier in the week we went to an organization called Women’s Solidarity. This organization, established in 1989, is a place for women in Namibia to have a voice on women’s issues. The organization focuses a lot on gender-based violence. The woman in charge, Rosa, would like to make the new house they moved into a place where teen mothers could come and stay if they are in need of a caring environment to live. Women’s Solidarity is not the only organization working for social justice in Namibia; there are many. Another institution working for change and innovation is the Habitat Research and Development Center. The Center takes recycled materials from around Windhoek and creates infrastructure, and practical everyday items with the things they collect. The things that they create are ingenious. They have tires, foam, bottles, and sandbags for walls, pop cans for doors, milk cartons for light fixtures and many other cool innovations. The Center truly utilizes creativity and uses scrap in a creative way to make something useful.

Those are only two examples of the many organizations and people working for change in Namibia. And organizations like that are all around the world. These two organizations are good examples for us. We cannot possibly live a blameless life, because we are human—but we can fight for what we believe in and oppose the systems that operate on greed.

"Scrap can be useful" sign found at the Habitat Research
and Development Center in Windhoek.
When Linda had finished her story, we all sat in silence, contemplating our role in this world and how we can live a better life. My head kept spinning back to the question of morality and the inability to truly live an ethical life. I was becoming more and more pessimistic about the future every second, but then I stopped and took a deep breath and took in my surroundings. We, a class of seven students from around the United States, were going to an organic farm to learn about how people are making good in this harsh world. And I realized that all of us in the car really care about the world and people. So I had a spark of optimism knowing that there are more people in the world, just like us, young, curious, creative youth who are trying to learn to make the world better than it was yesterday. And you know what? I believe we truly are the generation that can change the world.

No comments: