Beyond Bangladesh

A Christian Science perspective: What can average consumers do to protest the injustice that can lead to the kind of tragedy that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh?

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As consumers, we naturally try to get what we need for lower prices. But the collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh April 24, in which safety was sacrificed for profit, resulting in the loss of more than 750 lives, sheds light on our search for the “best buy.”

What can average consumers do to protest the greed and injustice that can lead to this kind of tragedy? Various buying guides are now available to evaluate purchasing choices, rating companies’ environmental and social justice record. Voting with your wallet offers a step. Holding those responsible for such disasters is vital. Western companies taking greater responsibility for their contracts is equally essential. But buyers on another continent can still feel relatively powerless to create meaningful change in industry standards and practices worldwide.

While being as socially and environmentally conscious as we can is a start, we can also seek justice on a larger scale. We can turn not only to the legal and social systems of the world but to divine justice. A story from the Bible comes to mind.

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Elijah the prophet is fleeing for his life from Jezebel, and from an entire people ignoring the laws of God and leading corrupt lives (see I Kings 19:2-12). In despair, Elijah asks God if he could just die. The response he perceives to his plea is not escape. He is drawn to the top of a mountain, where a there is a strong wind, followed by a violent earthquake, and finally a fire. But significantly the Bible records that God is not in these phenomena. After all of that commotion comes a still, small voice. Elijah is awakened to the very presence and transcendent power of God. He is strengthened to go on with his work. There is more to his life than meets the eye.

We, too, don’t have to be overwhelmed by injustice but can awaken to the fact of God’s omnipotent presence at hand, correcting and guiding. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “Injustice has not a tithe of the power of justice” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 191).

Consider Christ Jesus’ response to graft. He simply and irresistibly healed those lured into such activity. Take Zacchaeus, the tax collector who made it a practice to exact more than was allowed by law, becoming rich himself. His encounter with Jesus so awakened him to a higher life-aspiration that he ceased his unlawful practices and made restitution to those whom he had wronged fourfold. Don’t we all want the justice of real healing like this?

The Christ that Jesus represented is an enduring cross-cultural, cross-millennial, cross-religious message. It is what Mrs. Eddy described when referring to the Christ as “the real man and his relation to God” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 316). This “real man,” including all men and women everywhere, transcends the whole perception of greed, injustice, and victimization. Elaborating on this concept, Eddy writes: “Man is more than physical personality, or what we cognize through the material senses” (“No and Yes,” p. 25).

We still have much to learn about the infinite – and the identity of each of us as the sons and daughters of the infinite God – but piercing the sorrow and injustice is the still, small voice of powerful proportions, persistently urging us all to seek the meaning that only divine justice can bring to such circumstances. This is the justice of the Christ – of the real man and his enduring relation with the divine. This Christly perception can enable us to make wiser – more compassionate and more informed – decisions about the products we buy and the businesses we support. This can help bring correction to the wrongs of this world.

But as much as every effort we make to right the world’s wrongs is important, it is empowering to realize that it’s not so much the power of humans as it is the potency of the Christ itself that is the real change agent for injustice. Christly prayer is transformative power. As Jesus referred to the transforming power of leaven – “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matthew 13:33) – so the transforming power of the Christ is at work in the collective consciousness of the world. Echoing a prophecy in the book of Ezekiel, Eddy wrote, “God reigns, and will ‘turn and overturn’ until right is found supreme” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 80). 

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