Hopping to Justice?

May 9, 2013 Leave a comment

“Problems require solutions.  Questions must be lived into.  We often do not know the difference.”

– Krista Tippett paraphrasing Jacob Needleman

I recently had a lively and illuminating conversation with an unexpected teacher.  He came in the form of a well-spoken and measured man who works in the field of emergency food.  We were talking at a state-wide food system convening about the causes of and solutions for hunger and he mentioned the idea of the “two footprints.”

The first thing to consider, he said, is that we ideally stand dynamically balanced on two legs in order to move forward on the issue.  The first step we might take in attempting any kind of resolution is to focus on charity.  “You cannot not feed people if they are hungry.”  But if you only feed people, then his question was, “How long can you stand on one leg?”

To make real progress we need to go beyond charity to justice, to asking why people are hungry or homeless or on the margins.  It also strikes me that this is about knowing the difference between and continuously finding the right balance between problems and questions, as noted in the quote above.  If our every effort is about putting out fires, how can we get to the underlying causes of those fires and ultimately to what will deeply feed us all?

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