One may be guilty of active or passive oppression. When we intentionally hurt another person because he’s different, that is active stranger abuse. But withholding our help in a time of need or withdrawing our acts of charity to a visitor is in our midst is just as serious. Passive oppression, even in the church, is commonplace.
At the age of 24, Bob Dylan wrote an ode to the disenfranchised. I was only 13 years old but I well remember his song. It stayed on the U.S. music charts in for nearly 3 months reaching number 2 just behind the Beatles “Help.” His indictment of those who consider themselves superior to the ‘down-and-outers’ has always rung true in my soul.
Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime,didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall".
You thought they were all kiddin' you .
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out.
Now you don't talk so loud;
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be without a home;
Like a complete unknown;
Like a rolling stone?
“You… know how it feels” to be different, don’t you? Since you do, treat outsiders like insiders, strangers like neighbors, aliens like nationals, visitors like members, lonely people like family, and complete unknowns like real friends.
“Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels
to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.”
The graphic came from an the article "Proudly exclude some people" (8/18/2007) by Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, the largest online distributor of independent music (http://sivers.org/proudly-exclude-most).
In August 1964, photographer Daniel Kramer arranged a portrait sitting with 23 year old Bob Dylan in Woodstock, New York. One of these photos is pictured above. Mr. Kramer is a also an author and film director. His photographic work has been collected and displayed in numerous museums and galleries including Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.