Posted by: gillianbarratt | 23 September, 2009

The Oppressed – Summary

It was girls only last night to tackle a very thought-provoking subject.  We began by discussing who the “oppressed” really were. It seemed to us that this is somewhat deeper than just the “unfortunate” who have fallen into difficulty, implying some deliberate placing of a group in a “sub-human” category. Historical examples are the Holocaust and apartheid. Present examples that came to mind:

  • Sex workers (not far from our doors in the forest of Saint-Germain)
  • Asylum seekers with a particular thought for the inhabitants of the camp near Calais that was cleared yesterday
  • The homeless  – whom we don’t see in Maisons-Laffitte, suggesting that they are “moved on” ????
  • People under excessive pressure at work
  • People suffering under oppressive Government regimes – for example, Burma
  • Child labour

As a guide to our response we looked at Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman: as a female, foreigner, Gentile and probably a social outcast because of her lifestyle, she ticks a lot of boxes. We noted that His first action  was to ask something of her, inviting a real contact and showing her respect rather than treating her as a charitable object and conscience-salve, and that the help offered was a permanent solution (living water) rather than a quick fix.

We admitted that we find it difficult to approach people in the categories mentioned above and that we don’t get involved in defending human rights (for example, joining in protest rallies) as often as we should.

We discussed the different actions listed in the book and were drawn to the idea of creating something like the tunnel of oppression in Maisons-Laffitte to draw attention to these issues and to suggest actions, even small,  to improve the situation. Linked to this, we would compile a guide to suppliers of food, clothes, toys etc in France who do not use child labour and treat their workers fairly.

We concluded by praising our God whose supports the downtrodden and holds the humble high in the words of the Magnificat.

Here’s a paraphrase to a well-known folk tune.

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Responses

  1. Nice summary Gill, thanks.
    My first thought on reading it was, “Office workers, oppressed? Give me a break, that’s not oppression, what about political prisoners in Burma or China, or Colombian farmers under the control of hugely powerful drug gangs, etc., etc.”.
    But then I thought – to God there is no such thing as a small sin or a big sin, there is just sin. Maybe it’s the same with oppression – maybe there is no small oppression or big oppression, there is just oppression. (Maybe?) That would make a lot of oppressed people in the world! (And a lot of oppressors …) But in the broad sense that we are all oppressed by sin, it’s not very helpful, right?

    Was there any sense of who you as a group felt most called to minister to?

  2. Good point. I may have precipitated this by posting the clip of the unconventional take on the Messiah from the Vienna opera, in which the “Christ” figure is a business man. I chose it for the counter-tenor’s amazing voice, but it seemed to strike a chord (no pun intended) with Isaline. Maybe oppression could be defined as being forced to be something different from the person you are meant to be, which would cover sin as well.

    We did however, note that there were differences in degree. We were particularly concerned about how our buying habits (where does Decathlon make all that cheap camping equipment?) could contribute to perpetuating child labour and will be looking more closely at labels in the future.

    Must go now, I’m at work…..

    Gill


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