At a Guatemalan mine, profit-driven abuses are wantonly destroying lives and ecosystems â€” a tragic story repeated in indigenous communities worldwide.
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BY TIM HØILAND PHOTOS AND CAPTION INTERVIEWS BY ALLAN LISSNER
o one ends up in Sipakapa accidentally.A small municipality of 15,000 people in the highlands of western Guatemala, Sipakapa has always been fairly unremarkable to the outside world. Always, that is, until gold was discovered there a decade ago. Since then, Sipakapa’s story has made it the subject of documentary films and brought it international media coverage and a steady stream of foreign visitors. Residents, however, would just as soon remain anonymous. It’s a story that’s becoming all too common for indigenous communities around the world. Buoyed by an international bank and with the blessing of friends in high places within the national government, a multinational mining corporation enters a poor and isolated community to set up a mining operation, bringing promises of development and jobs but leaving the community devastated when all is said and done. Investors in North America, meanwhile, enjoy hundreds of millions of dollars in returns, completely unaware that they are complicit in human rights abuses, environmental devastation, and, at times, even the destruction of entire communities of people whose only crime was living on land full of gold.
by this time become a well-established social and political force, gave its silent assent to the new arrangement. In the 20th century, with colonialism-as-usual waning, US interests at times assumed a less overt, but no less insidious, role in Guatemala. When, after years of dictatorial tyranny, a delicate democratic process resulted in the election in 1951 of a president committed to land reform, a major US fruit company with much to lose persuaded the Eisenhower administration that recent developments in Guatemala represented a turn towards communism. According to the domino logic of the Cold War, this was seen as an intolerable threat, and the CIA swiftly engineered a coup to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz, Guatemala’s head of state. Within several years Guatemala had spiraled into a civil war over the struggle for land that would last 36 years, waged between left-wing indigenous guerrillas and the military forces representing right-wing dictators. Wanting nothing more than peace, the majority of Guatemalans — and especially the rural-dwelling indigenous poor — were caught in the middle. After the signing of peace accords brought fighting to an end in 1996, reports by the United Nations and the Guatemalan Catholic Church (which had since “converted” to the side of the poor) revealed that the vast majority of “disappearances,” deaths, and human rights abuses during the war occurred at the hands of the federal government and military forces.Among the most notorious offenders of human rights during the civil war was Efraín Ríos Montt, an army general and evangelical televangelist with strong US support, during whose short-lived presidency in 1982-83 the country saw an alarming escalation of rape, torture, and gruesome massacres of indigenous people.The United Nations accused him of genocide. This was the world into which I was born at a small hospital in Guatemala City in 1982. My parents were working as linguists among the people of Sipakapa, whose language, Sipakapense, had never previously been reduced to writing. I grew up in what had been a one-room adobe schoolhouse
A HISTORY OF POWER Dietrich Bonhoeffer described history as the story of what people do with power. History has not been kind to Guatemala’s indigenous people.The country’s Mayan descendants, though comprising well over half the population, have time and again been dealt a losing hand by those in power. After Columbus “discovered” the New World, Europeans began settling in the region, usually exercising force as a means of gaining control in matters of politics, economics, and even religion. This wealthy and powerful Old World elite established large-scale coffee and banana plantations, or fincas, on Guatemala’s fertile lowlands. Many of the indigenous people, meanwhile, were pushed to resettle on small tracts of land in the more topographically challenging, and often less fertile, highlands, while some were forcibly conscripted into harvesting the fincas.The Guatemalan Catholic Church, which had
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Top left & right: In 2005, the inhabitants of Sipakapa put mining to a vote. In some of the villages, votes were submitted on paper, in others by raising hands. The results: 98 percent of the participating population rejected mining. Bottom: According to the law, the community’s decision to refuse mining had to to be taken to the town hall three days after the referendum. By petition of the mayor, however, anti-riot police forces entered Sipakapa to “avoid conflict.” No confrontation took place between police and civilians, but what should have been a public celebration was turned into a show of intimidation. Goldcorp took legal action to have the referendum annulled. The Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled that the referendum was legal but not binding. (All photos this page courtesy of COPAE)
on a mountain ridge 9,000 feet above sea level. On a clear day we could walk out the front door and see Volcán Tajumulco, the highest point in Central America. Out back, past the eucalyptus trees on the far side of the soccer field, was Mexico, several hazy mountain ridges away. I remember our neighbors as beautiful, hardworking people — subsistence farmers mostly — living with large extended families in adobe houses perched on steep hillsides amid rows and rows of corn. Legions of clucking chickens and gangs of vigilantly territorial guard dogs roamed the farms. Families lived off the land, in a way of life passed down from generation to generation. For the Sipakapense, every meal, every day, was centered on corn grown in their own fields with their own hands. It was a simple, stable way of life. It was, however, by no means without its hardships, and a nostalgic image of blissful agrarian living must be balanced with the pernicious everyday realities of malnutrition, underemployment, lack of education, inadequate healthcare, and the acute
problem of alcoholism, in addition to racism and discrimination experienced in relation to formal structures of power. And circumstances were about to take a tragic, if paradoxical, turn for the worse.
THE GOLD RUSH In 1998, vast mineral deposits were discovered in the region, with an especially lucrative deposit in an area straddling the line between the municipalities of Sipakapa and its neighbor, San Miguel Ixtahuacán.The majority of this deposit was buried in land under the jurisdiction of the latter, but the mine was to impact Sipakapa significantly as well. Over the next several years, various companies bought and sold rights to the deposit while the process was underway to gain both the necessary funding and the legal permission to begin a major extraction operation. Funding was arranged through the World Bank’s private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the federal government of Guatemala
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signed the necessary paperwork for the start of what is now known as the Marlin mine. Shortly after extraction began in 2005, a Canadian multinational corporation called Goldcorp — one of the largest mining companies in the world — acquired rights to the deposit. Today, Marlin is Goldcorp’s most profitable mine. Controversy surrounded the operation from the start.As part of the 1996 peace accords, Guatemala is bound to standards set by the International Labor Organization, which were designed especially to prevent the recurrence of abuses and assure indigenous peoples autonomy in matters of local concern. In other words, indigenous communities are entitled to determine, through their own democratic methods, how their land is used. Additionally, according to operating policy, the IFC and other international banks are not permitted to move forward with funding a project without the free, prior, and informed consent of affected communities. Though consultations of various sorts reportedly did take place in the case of the Marlin mine, instances of misinformation bordering on manipulation were rampant, and in no way could such consultations be considered free, prior, or informed. Nonetheless, many of the people of San Miguel Ixtahuacán at least initially welcomed the mining operation. And why not? After all, the company promised community development, which would mean schools, infrastructure, health clinics, a community center, vocational training, and — above all — jobs. Given the general lack of economic opportunity in the area, these were compelling promises. Several families in both municipalities sold their land at top dollar, and a number of local residents managed to obtain employment at the mine.
Ana Gonzalez of COPAE conducts regular tests of the water all around the mine. Scientific studies by COPAE have shown that the rivers below the tailings pond contain arsenic and are not suitable for consumption. Despite claims that the water is safe, company employees refused when one of the auxiliary mayors of San Miguel Ixtahuacán challenged them to drink or bathe in the water themselves.
Through its own nonprofit organization, the Sierra Madre Foundation, Goldcorp even began to follow through on some of its community development pledges.
THE RESISTANCE In Sipakapa, however, reception for the mine was decidedly less enthusiastic. In conjunction with the Diocese of the Catholic Church in the regional capital of San Marcos, community leaders spoke out with a unified voice, citing the lack of community consultation and the denial of local democratic processes as guaranteed by law. Additionally, after investigating Goldcorp’s sunny promises in light of the measurably inferior results at similar mining operations elsewhere — including one in nearby Honduras — the people of Sipakapa decided that they must work to avoid a similar fate. The community organized a formal consultation involving all 13 villages within the municipality to address the simple question of whether or not the community was in favor of the mining operation continuing. Despite misinformation campaigns traced to Goldcorp leading up to the date of the consultation (including the distribution of flyers announcing the cancellation of the consultation one day prior), as well as the company’s last-ditch efforts petitioning the government to have the consultation stopped on supposed legal grounds, the community was united. Its will was strong, and the consultation took place as planned. Having taken steps to ensure transparency and legitimacy by inviting international observers to be present and arranging for proceedings to be broadcast
“They told us the water is fine,” says Reyna as she does her laundry in the river. “We don’t have any water at the house and our well has dried up, so we have to come down here.”
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Water shortages in the region are worse than ever, which is an urgent problem in a farming community with underdeveloped infrastructure and irrigation.Tests by researchers from the University of Michigan have shown that the water has been poisoned by toxic levels of chemicals and is becoming unsafe for use. Children especially have begun to suffer various health problems, including skin diseases, hair loss, and respiratory difficulties. Nearby houses have begun to crack, leaving families exposed to the elements and susceptible to collapse in the event of earthquakes and landslides. All of these problems can be traced directly to the Marlin mine, which uses unsustainable quantities of water, employs high levels of toxic chemicals such as cyanide, and systematically uses explosions to gain access to deeper and deeper layers of ore. Other repercussions, no less serious, will only
live on the local radio station, residents of each of the 13 villages cast their votes. The results were undeniable: 98 percent of votes were cast in opposition to the mine, stating definitively that they wanted no part of the operation in their communities. Nevertheless, due to the tragic but all-too-predictable lack of enforcement of the law and the neglect of human rights — which had allowed the mine to begin in the first place — operations continued unabated. Locals have continued to speak out against the mine and, in turn, have been harassed, arrested, and, in a few cases, killed. Since the Sipakapa consultation in 2005, nongovernmental groups and, more recently, international media have increasingly begun spotlighting the human rights abuses and environmental devastation surrounding the Marlin mine.
Left: “Since the mine came, [the corn doesn’t] come out the same anymore,” says Crisanta. “We haven’t had a good harvest for about three years. Even the crops that we do harvest we cannot sell. As soon as people find out that we are from San Miguel, they don’t want to buy from us because they say it’s all contaminated.” Right: Lisandro, 8, has itchy rashes all over his body. “When the mining company came, it brought us skin infections, stomach pains, illnesses like flu, and also diarrhea in children and adults,” says Lisandro’s Uncle Victor. “I think that it is because we are drinking the water, and we bathe in the river. Where are we going to go?” “This is not a development project,” adds Miguel-Angel, who owns the local pharmacy. “This is a project of death! It’s a monster!”
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be seen in time, such as the erosion of topsoil as a result of deforestation and the social conflicts that have begun to surface as the winners and the losers from the mining operation (sometimes from within the same families) emerge at odds with each other. These outcomes are par for the course in indigenous areas acquainted with what has been dubbed the “resource curse,” in which the presence of rich natural resources, such as mineral deposits, ends up destroying ecosystems and community livelihoods. Over the past few years, calls for the temporary suspension or permanent closure of the Marlin mine have increasingly arisen from various quarters. Most recently, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States, has stated that the mine must be suspended until Goldcorp can correct its ways. Initially the Guatemalan government balked at the injunction, but later agreed to a phased-down suspension, claiming it would require months to fully suspend operations, even temporarily. At the time of this writing, it appears that the government has since rescinded on even that half-hearted measure, and mining seems to be continuing as usual.
Above: Sipakapa continues to refuse any payments from the company and resists continued attempts to expand the mine within their territory. Instead, the community proposed an alternative development project of their own in the form of a fair-trade organic coffee cooperative. In the summer of 2009, their coffee co-op finally got off the ground and participants, like Fausto Valiente (left), are now in the process of laying the groundwork for their future plantations.
Below: “Agriculture is our art, it’s what we know,” says Ovideo. “Gold is of no value to us, but our land, our families, our culture — these are things that we value greatly.” This group is planning the layout of a new coffee plantation in Sipakapa. They measure out the distances between each tree, taking into account the slope of the hill, direction of the sun, and quality of the soil. “This is very difficult and complicated work, but we know how to take care of ourselves,” says Fidel, one of the organizers behind the organic coffee project. “That is why we, the people of Sipakapa, have said ‘No!’ to mining in our territory.”
Last year, as a graduate student of international development at Eastern University, I returned to Sipakapa for the first time in more than a decade to conduct interviews with community leaders and members of the mining resistance movement. I had already done research from afar; I wanted to hear from the people of Sipakapa for myself. I began in the regional capital of San Marcos, where the anti-mining movement has been strong since the beginning. Working through a nonprofit organization called the Pastoral Commission on Peace and Ecology, or COPAE, the Diocese of San Marcos has played an integral role in organizing resistance to the mine and supporting the grassroots efforts of local indigenous leaders. I met with Nate Howard, a community development worker with the Mennonite Central Committee who works in partnership with the diocese. While I was visiting the diocese building in downtown San Marcos, Howard introduced me to Fausto Valiente, working with COPAE in a small laboratory where he tested samples of water from rivers near the mine to determine levels of toxic chemicals. This was an important part in bringing to light the true effects of the mine. But Valiente was concerned with far more than chemical levels. He told me how the Marlin mine has disrupted life for Sipakapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán. “Rivers flow from high to low,”Valiente said, motioning downward with his hand. “When people above are with the PRISM 2 0 1 0
mine and people below are against it, there are conflicts. We have seen the militarization of our territory. In the past they had no presence here, but now they intimidate the population.” “There have been other problems,” he continued. “The villages were quiet and calm but now prostitutes come in because of demand from workers. Also, rapes have increased, but women are afraid to admit to being assaulted, because they fear what the rapists or their husbands might do to them.” COPAE, while officially part of the Catholic Church and rooted in its theology of the dignity of all human life, has served to unite communities across religious and denominational lines. Catholics, evangelicals, and practitioners of the traditional Mayan religion have come together as community members in opposition to that which threatens their collective way of life.The Catholic Church has taken the initiative because of its unparalleled influence and presence in communities, Valiente said. Indeed, under the tremendously influential leadership of Alvaro Ramazzini, the bishop of San Marcos, the anti-mining movement in the region has gained national and international notoriety. Like other Guatemalan priests and bishops before him, Ramazzini has received death threats for his work but has remained committed to affirming the rights of the indigenous people and standing with them no matter the cost. A similar conviction compels and sustains many in the antimining movement. Valiente has since left COPAE to head a start-up organic coffee project as an alternative development model in Sipakapa. Recognizing that it is simply not enough to resist destructive forces from the outside and that a community like Sipakapa falls victim to mining operations for lack of better alternatives, the project emphasizes community ownership, interdependence, and sustainable practices. It aims to make clear that a destructive mining project should not be a community’s only option for development and that community residents — not boards of directors for corporations far away — should be able to make the decisions that affect their daily lives. Though still in its early stages, this effort has infused a small but renewed sense of optimism into Sipakapa. Such positive development alternatives are today more crucial than ever if Sipakapa’s future is to be any brighter than its recent past.
MCC Mining Justice Ottawa.MCC.org/MiningJusticeResources The Mennonite Central Committee provides thoughtful resources on the intersection of theology and mining opposition, especially for Canadian constituents but helpful for all.Watch the 15-minute documentary La Mina (free study guide for download) and sign up for the newsletter. COPAE Resistance-Mining.org The English-language website of the anti-mining movement from the Diocese of San Marcos provides updates as they happen in the region. Sign up for COPAE’s monthly newsletter, The Oak. Sipakapa No Se Vende CaracolProducciones.blogspot.com This 55-minute documentary by Caracol Producciones tells the story of the community consultation in Sipakapa, contrasting the claims of the mining company with the daily lives and hardships of the people. Spanish with English subtitles. No Dirty Gold NoDirtyGold.org From EARTHWORKS and Oxfam, this campaign aims to provide in-depth information about the realities of the mining industry, along with positive alternatives at both the policy and the personal levels. Citizenship Papers This book by Wendell Berry, and especially the chapter “The Total Economy,” is a thought-provoking manifesto on the merits of the local economy as opposed to the current arrangement in which everything and everyone is for sale to the highest bidder with no concern for long-term consequences.
COMPLICITY AND CONNECTION While the ebb and flow of countless setbacks and small victories have understandably taken their toll on the resolve of those opposed to mining in Sipakapa, elsewhere the movement is growing like wildfire because Goldcorp has continued to seek out — and in many cases obtain — licenses to explore elsewhere in the Guatemalan highlands for mineral deposits. PRISM 2 0 1 0
without a move of God,” he says, “but we are responsible to give testimony. Mining is a representation of so many values that stand against the kingdom of God. We are to be about life in all its manifestations. We defend life when it comes to abortion, but in so many ways our economics are anti-life. It is a huge disconnect.” Connection is a big theme for Howard. He emphasizes the importance of Christians connecting the dots between their faith and their economic practices in this age of globalization, in which even previously isolated communities like Sipakapa and Sibinal are unavoidably connected to the rest of the world. “There is such a disconnect with our economics and how it affects people,” he argues. “It’s a system of proxies: We take our responsibility and turn it over to corporations.” We do this through our habits of consumption, Howard says, but also through investments and generally with little or no thought about who is affected on the other end of the market equation. Goldcorp, for its part, claims to value “a balance of economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility.” This sounds good on paper, but balancing the need for substantial profits with the promises of environmental stewardship and social responsibility is easier said than done under the less-than-gracious auspices of the almighty dollar. At Goldcorp’s annual meeting in May of this year, investors were presented with findings from an independent investigation into the Marlin mine, alleging various abuses and recommending that key changes be made. But when investors were given the opportunity to vote, 90 percent indicated their desire for mining to continue as normal.When push came to shove, “economic prosperity” yet again won out over “environmental stewardship and social responsibility.” In other words, short-term economic gain for a few took precedence over the long-term well-being of many. This should come as no surprise, however. After all, is this not how publicly traded companies — especially those dealing in natural resources — are designed to work? Perhaps it is not too much of a stretch for one to conclude, as farmer and poet Wendell Berry does, that “a corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.” Executives, then, understandably assert that the most ethical thing for them to do is to secure for their investors the greatest possible monetary return. William Vanderbilt, who at the time of his death was the richest person in the world, captured the mindset poignantly: “The public be damned! I’m working for my stockholders.” When a corporation is owned by shareholders who expect
“Our houses are falling apart!” says Irma, standing in her crumbling bedroom. “I’m scared to be inside my house, because one day it can fall on top of us!” Goldcorp refuses to acknowledge any connection between their operations and the damage to the houses, which they say are poorly built. “If the problem was poor construction, then most of the houses in the whole country would be having the same problems, not just the ones next to their mine...Once they even said it was being caused because we play our music too loud!” A recent report put out by COPAE and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee states:“There are no sources of vibrations in the area except those resulting from mine blasting and heavy truck traffic; therefore it is very highly likely that the damage in local villages is caused by the mining activity and associated truck traffic.”
The Marlin mine has captured the attention of tens of thousands in the region, and stopping the expansion of mining operations in the western highlands has become a rallying cry. One San Marcos community targeted by Goldcorp for expansion of its operations is Sibinal, where Nate Howard works. This has made the work of food security and income generation in the community all the more pressing. Though on a day-to-day basis Howard’s work is highly localized in Sibinal, he cannot help but consider the broader philosophical and even theological issues that have led to the current situation in such communities. Howard describes the work he does with food security and income generation as a small part of building the kingdom of God. “It’s not that we’re going to build the kingdom
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and demand the maximum return on investment in the shortest amount of time with no questions asked, it naturally follows that concerns other than the immediate economic bottom line will be offered as sacrifices to the proverbial golden calf. Indeed, short of legally binding regulations to restrict exploitive practices, we can expect business to continue as usual, not just in Sipakapa and San Marcos, but throughout the whole world as well. Of course, the vast majority of investors do not actively condone the destruction of entire ecosystems, the violation of human rights, and the wanton recklessness with which
indigenous communities are torn apart. Most would be appalled to discover their complicity in such abuses. One would hope, in turn, that followers of Christ — when they discover that by investing their hard-earned money in companies that systematically put profits before people to such a devastating and life-destroying effect — would at the very least reconsider their investment practices.
LIFESTYLE AND JUSTICE The problem that must be examined, critically and theologically, is a pervasive unquestioning allegiance to an economic system that implicates us followers of Christ in abuses against human dignity and degradation of God’s good creation.This is a travesty in itself that is greatly multiplied in its tragic implications when the well-being of the rural poor is so closely tied to the health of their land and ecosystem. Will evangelicals who affirm social justice in theory have the integrity and courage to examine their hearts and actions and be willing to change? We must ask ourselves: What are the lives and livelihoods of the poor really worth to us? What are they worth to God? We may pray for, support, and serve the poor regularly from afar or in our own backyard. We may read the Bible, attuned to God’s special concern for the oppressed and vulnerable. But as Saint Augustine said, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” Even if we have not invested directly or through mutual funds in extractive industries with questionable ethics, our very lifestyles feed an insatiable demand for metals that pushes companies like Goldcorp to operate as they do. The Marlin mine produces gold, which is used largely for jewelry. Like the now infamous blood diamonds of Sierra Leone, it is particularly disturbing when unspeakable suffering is brought upon innocent people so that we can buy the luxuries we desire. At the level of policy and law enforcement, governments should be held to the environmental, labor, and human rights agreements that they signed for the well-being of their people. Leaders of developing nations must come to see that lining their own pockets works to impoverish their people, weakens the country, and eventually makes violent conflict all but inevitable. Additionally, accountability is urgently needed for mining companies, which are largely Canadian, but also from the United States. In Canada, a promising piece of legislation known as C-300 is being considered, which, if passed into law, would ensure that companies acting irresponsibly overseas would not be eligible for taxpayer-supported subsidies. That would be a promising first step in the accountability process.
Rosalia stands on what used to be part of her farm until the mine expanded a single-lane dirt road to accommodate large mining trucks. Rosalia’s family says it was never consulted or compensated for the loss of their land. When the company first arrived in the area, they carried out a series of presentations on the benefits of mining. Those who attended the meetings were asked to sign a list in exchange for a free lunch. Community members say that these lists were then used by Goldcorp to prove to the government and the World Bank that they had consulted the local communities. “There was no dialogue and no consultation with the communities about the company coming here. The public was not consulted. That is why we are very upset, because these people have money, they can do what they want. They don’t care about our lives. We did what we could, but it didn’t make any difference. The old mayor and judge sided with the company for the money. So the people couldn’t defend their rights.”
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The United States recently passed conflict minerals legislation related to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but comparable legislation is needed to prevent similarly insidious, if less flashy, destructive practices connected to American business interests and consumption overseas. As Christians who believe in social action, we must work for and support such positive steps that affirm life. But we simply cannot wait around for top-down policy solutions. Ultimately, we, who are among the world’s richest, maintain the economic status quo through our lifestyles while simultaneously keeping the indigenous peoples of the world vulnerable to the whims of exploitive industries. But it is also in our lifestyles, collectively, where possibility for lasting change lies.
THE LAST WORD: STEWARDSHIP While writing this article I received an email forwarded to me by a friend who had received it from someone I do not doubt is a genuine follower of Christ.The email concerned a “special opportunity… too good not to share,” an opportunity to invest in a company specializing in precious metals, including gold and silver. I learned that the company’s executives and key investors are Christians.The message went on to say that investing in such a company, boasting impressive returns that will only continue to multiply, was “a great opportunity for being a good steward.” Stewardship as a concept and as a lifestyle is in desperate need of redemption. It is not, as some suppose, merely a matter of maximizing profits through work and investments so we can then give 10 percent to our church with a bit more ease. Stewardship, properly understood, is rooted in the earthshaking recognition that all we have is entrusted to us in service of a good King who claims lordship over all of life. We cannot serve both God and money. But as folksinger and prophet/provocateur Bob Dylan famously crooned, “You gotta serve somebody.” Wantonly destroying lives, communities, and ecosystems for short-term economic gain is not good stewardship. Such participation is simply at odds with the in-breaking kingdom of God, and we shield ourselves from these realities, through willful ignorance, to our spiritual peril. As Christians, we rightly ground our belief in the Bible. But we do not always follow our beliefs to their logical and necessary conclusions in matters of ethics, I believe, because doing so eventually involves dealing with structures of power. But North American evangelicals, albeit with notable exceptions, have tended to shy away from speaking the truth to power even when the powers that be oppress the very ones Jesus identified himself with, “the least of these.” The uncomfortable fact is that while people like the Sipakapense have suffered because of the economic system, it
Goldcorp’s annual meetings, held alternately in Toronto and Vancouver, draw regular protests on the outside, as well as community representatives raising their concerns to the shareholders inside.
has worked quite well for many of us. Because we find ourselves near the top of the global economic pyramid, it is quite inconvenient for us to take issue with the status quo. It may be fear, greed, ignorance, or some unholy union of the three. But we must take issue with the status quo when it stands against life. We must examine our hearts. We must do all we can to connect the dots, and we must be honest with what we discover.We must be willing to repent, to change our ways and move, by God’s grace, in the opposite direction. God is waiting to transform us into a mercy-loving, justicepracticing, humble people, set free from the chains that bind us all. Then, and only then, can we speak of stewardship. It’s our move. ■ Tim Høiland (tjhoiland.com) is a reader, writer, sinner, saint, and an aspiring artisan of shalom. He lives in Lancaster, Pa.
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