Perhaps next year, little tiny cause ribbons will be added to the golden man. One for equal pay, Alzheimer awareness, suicide prevention, ALS, immigration, civil rights…
All of these causes and a few more were highlighted in the acceptance speeches at The 87th Academy Awards. Each star clutched their statue in one hand and with the other, seized the opportunity to speak about what matters to them. To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming. It felt something akin to walking through the cosmetics section in a department store and getting sprayed by every perfume on the market. How is one supposed to decipher between them all? One big bomb of floral, citrus, musk. So, how do you choose? The majority of us cannot possibly give to every cause, but how do you decide which one to offer your focus?
Here are the causes as they were brought to our attention:
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. … It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for all women in America!”-Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress)
“When I was 16, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. I would like this moment to be for the kid out there who feels like she’s weird and different and feels like she doesn’t belong. Yes, you do.” -Graham Moore (Best Adapted Screenplay)
“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose threats to our privacy but to our democracy.” –Laura Poitras (Best Documentary)
“The ones who live in Mexico, I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. The ones that live in this country, who are just part of the latest generation of immigrants in this county, I just pray they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.” –Alejandro González Iñárritu (Best Picture)
“People with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen.” -Julianne Moore (Best Actress)
“This belongs to all of the people around the world battling ALS.” -Eddie Redmayne (Best Actor)
“We say that ‘Selma’ is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justices where we live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” -John Legend (Best Original Song)
It was hard not to be moved by their impassioned charges to act, think, be. But again, how can we be a part of every cause? And is that something we should even attempt?
Perhaps it has nothing to do with picking and choosing.
Here is the common thread I heard throughout the night: Dignity.
I believe this is where we win or lose the battle in human rights across the board. At the heart of all of these causes is the question of value. As women, are we as valuable to the world as men? Are all races of equal value? Do ALS and Alzheimer’s patients have the same value as other “healthier” human beings? The kid who is contemplating suicide is likely doing so because she has heard from the world that she is not valued. Does the government value the people? Are immigrants valuable human beings or just vermin to be expelled from our home?
Considering all these questions, it comes down to this: Does one person matter more than another? Most of us, I hope, would give a resounding, “No!” But, if we examined our lives -our choices, our communities, our spending, our thoughts- would our lives reveal a resounding “No!” or would they expose a different belief?
If we believe that all people have the same intrinsic value and should live in the dignity of human worth, if we build our lives to reflect that belief, then we don’t have to choose a cause; instead, we become part of the solution to every cause. And as the people of God, Christ followers, we should be leading the way in this.
“With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:9-10
Genesis tells us humans alone were made in the image of God. He bent low to breathe His own breath into our lungs and give us life. He has given life to every person of every race, gender, disability, nation, personality, etc… since. So, choose a cause that matters to you, but make choices that reflect the equal dignity woven into every person, the image of God.