“What does it mean to be a servant?” by Alberto Sarthou
Alberto Sarthou is the Finance Manager at KAIROS.
And Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great leaders exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” Mark 10:42-44
The gap between rich and poor is growing. The rich are getting richer and there are fewer of them. The poor are getting poorer and becoming vast in numbers. And indeed the rich lord it over us all. And the leaders of nations enable them by passing legislation that favours them and signing trade agreements that give them more power over the rest of us.
How are we to interpret Jesus’ words that we are to be servants and slaves of all? We already are servants and slaves to the rich who lord it over us. But we cannot just continue to be their servants and allow this growing inequality to grow even more. How can we be these servants when we know that this has to change and we have to work for social justice? So whose servants are we to be and how will we work for social justice?
We can become servants of all by speaking truth to power. We become advocates against this growing inequality. The new trade agreements with the European Union and China provide trans-national corporations the ability to sue our Canadian government if they believe that any legislation or policies of our municipal, provincial or federal governments impedes them from making the profits they believe they could have made if not for the legislation or policies. The rich are in effect suing the poor since the funds of the Canadian government come from us, Canadian citizens and residents, through our taxes. We have to speak out at least against this section of these trade agreements .
KAIROS is a servant of the poor when we educate Canadians about the human rights violations that mining corporations commit on indigenous populations and other people on whose lands these corporations mine. When we advocate, through our partners, for host governments to prevent these violations and punish the perpetrators. When we advocate with the Canadian government to pass legislation that will prevent Canadian mining corporations from setting up mines prior to receiving the free and informed consent of the inhabitants of the land.
KAIROS is a servant of the poor when we educate Canadians about the damage that exploitation of the Canadian tar sands is doing to the atmosphere, contributing to catastrophic natural events like strong typhoons and hurricanes, flooding and drought. When we advocate with the Canadian government to have a strategy to minimize our carbon emissions and to mitigate the damage that climate change is wreaking on vulnerable people we are servants.
When we work with KAIROS, we become the servants that Jesus is speaking about. And by speaking truth to power, we are educating the powerful that they too must be servants and stop enriching themselves at the expense of others. They can only be great by becoming servants.