Putting Teeth in Your Prayers
Teacher Television has taught us to be couch critics of injustices, sofa silent spectators of unfairness—except in sports! Why is unfairness in the workplace or the worship-place tolerated but not on the basketball court? If we ordinary individuals saw ourselves as the community umpires, referees and whistle blowers would we shrilly whistle at any foul play by an exploiting employer or a church practicing inequality? Our prayers lack clout because of our fear of retribution for speaking out and believing that as only one person we are impotent.
Gandhi’s morning prayer for justice included, “I shall put up with all suffering,” and challenges those praying for righteousness to accept the cost of doing something about it. Gandhi denounced the unjust, exploitative British Colonial Rule of India by denouncing it publicly, leading non-violent demonstrations, enduring prison time for these acts and fasting almost unto death. In doing so he practiced Dharana—“persistence” (in Sanskrit)—like those in India known to sit stubbornly or to fast at the door of one who owes them money until they receive what they have rightfully earned.
In Nigeria in 2002 a large crowd of 600 women composed of grandmothers, mothers and wives challenged the exploitive oil giant U.S. Chevron Texaco for not returning to their impoverished country some of its immense oil profits. Their request carried this threat: if Texaco refused they would take off all their clothing and protest naked! Public displays of nudity in Nigeria by individuals or groups cast shame not upon them, but on those whom their action is directed. Chevron capitulated. They funded the building of schools, electrical and water systems in Nigeria. So consider the possible results if you added actions to your prayers.
Envision the reaction if 600 Catholic women put teeth in their prayers for equality by protesting in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican—naked!