Awareness Is NOT the Primary Goal
What if Jesus’s main goal had been to raise awareness? Imagine Jesus as a non-stop marketing-machine with a single-minded focus on telling people to love their neighbor. In some respects, it’s an alluring idea. If everyone in the world had “love thy neighbor” firmly imprinted and ingrained in their consciousness, wouldn’t the world be a better place?
My mind played around with such ideas and questions upon reading a provocative piece by Weronika Paszewska entitled, “Awareness Shouldn’t Be Your Campaign Objective! Engage and Create Real Change!” Paszewska begins by inviting us to imagine a world brimming with people aware of the root causes of white supremacy, societal inequities, and climate change. She further invites us to envision such a reality being achieved by massive awareness-raising campaigns, even with all of the challenges and pitfalls that such campaigns typically face. Despite such campaign successes, Paszewska then writes:
…you can probably imagine that nothing else has happened in the world. Climate catastrophe is progressing, white supremacy is strengthening, social inequalities are rising even more. This is because just raising awareness doesn’t actually accomplish much of anything.
Paszewska writes in a polemical style and later acknowledges that raising awareness can play an important role in achieving change, but only when it is part of a larger series of actions that engage people in a collective, meaningful process.
In Christianity, we call this process discipleship. As part of the larger body of Christ, we are commissioned to go out into the world. To be sure, we then do some consciousness-raising along the way about a range of issues and injustices, but we are also feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, and acting in countless ways that actualize the beloved community in our midst.
On-ramps for discipleship in the movement for climate justice abound. Check out the upcoming webinar on the climate strike movement or join the Climate Hope Cards campaign. Together, we can grow in our awareness and our discipleship.