by Phil Morice Brubaker
Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
Let all the nations gather together,
and let the peoples assemble….
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them,
and let them hear and say, “It is true.”
You are my witnesses, says the Lord…. – Isaiah 43:8-10
First, let it be said that using “blind” and “deaf” as metaphors for a lack of understanding or wholeness is problematic. I can wish that the writer of Isaiah had realized a modern concept of differing physical abilities, but he didn’t. So, what we have in this text is a call to gather together people who lack understanding, who don’t “get it,” to defend their beliefs and actions. On the other side are the witnesses who know God’s deliverance and salvation.
In our polarized world, normalcy has us functioning in separate social enclaves. Red State or Blue State. Fox or MSNBC. People who “get it” or people who don’t. Those who want to make change for justice can’t simply relegate those who “don’t get it” to a class that we never associate with.
We are witnesses to God’s justice. As witnesses, we don’t have all the answers, but we are called to speak to what we know. Even when it’s tough, and we don’t want to deal with this person any more. Witnesses speak truth, and in this case, it is a truth that sets free, not a truth that imprisons.
(Two asides on appropriateness and self-care: It’s not necessarily appropriate for white people to witness justice to people of color, or men to women, etc. And, while witnessing involves sticking with it through difficulties, it doesn’t mean that we don’t tend to ourselves.)
God of Truth, you call us to be your witnesses to justice. Give us courage and tenacity to stick with those whom we find difficult and intractable, believing in your grace that works in unknowable ways. Amen.
Phil Morice Brubaker is coordinator and trainer with Roots of Justice.