Many years ago, there was a catch phrase in evangelical Christianity WWJD? It stood for what would Jesus do? It showed up on bumper stickers, those rubber bracelets and there was even a book written about it called, essentially, WWJD– answers to this question on a variety of topics. Of course, what the author neglected to mention was that the book was really what he would do, not Jesus, although he might think Jesus would agree.
I think it’s a great concept, asking what would Jesus do, if we could keep the answers to how the recording of his life is Christian scriptures showed him to be. He befriended the foreigner (Roman Centurion, Samaritan woman at the well) which might lead us to believe he would also befriend and speak for the rights of undocumented citizens from Mexico or Canada or any other country who is fleeing oppression or seeking justice. He healed the sick, which means he might be for universal health care. He said “You have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” which might indicate an aversion to the death penalty.
And of course, other witty responses to the WWJD arose– WWBD- what would Buddha do and WWJB– who would Jesus bomb. But perhaps the most important question we should be asking is WWUUD? What would Unitarian Universalists do in morally repugnant or frightening situations? How can we live our principles out in the wider world of which we are a part?
I’ve recently become a big fan on the show What Would You Do? On ABC, hosted by John Quinones. I think it’s on Friday, but I really have no idea since I set up the dvr to record it and watch it all hours of the day and night. But it’s a fascinating look into American culture. It’s like Candid Camera – only with a message. Hidden cameras are posted in various places and actors portray events that really happen and record the reactions or nonreactions of unsuspecting people nearby. Recent shows featured a “café worker” berating alleged latin@ day workers and saying they should all go back to Mexico and stop taking our jobs. Another showed “teen bullies” pushing and verbally abusing a “gay teen”. Yet another showed what happens when someone carelessly leaves their pet with someone outside a store.
There are more but you get the point. It’s interesting to see what sparks people’s courage or outrage. Ironically, more berated the woman who was leaving her dog with strangers than came to the aid of the teen allegedly being gay-bashed. A good number of people spoke in defense of the latin@ workers – less than those who stood up to supposedly drunk doctors on call heading in to do surgery.
It’s a good question, as we enter this holiday season filled with stories of bravery and standing in the face of dominant oppression. Buddha, who gave up everything and devoted his life to end suffering, Mary and Joseph who bravely withstood the sneering neighbors, homelessness and poverty to give birth to Jesus and who accepted the foreigners and their gifts later. The Maccabees who fought off domination and kept the fire of their commitment burning long after most lamps would have given out.
As we enter this season of crazed shopping, frenetic parties and insane traffic, let this be a reminder, that we are all a part of a wider world. That we are each of to care for one– family, friend, foe and foreigner alike. Because at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what we think Jesus or Buddha would do. At the end of the day, it really only matters what WE– you and me actually did to further civility, justice, compassion and caring in our world. That’s a gift anyone would appreciate. Happy Holidays.