Deep Solidarity: Embracing God's Power to Alleviate Poverty and Create Structural Change
Since poverty and wealth are not only matters of money but also of power, it is time to move from charity and advocacy to what I am calling "deep solidarity" (see Occupy Religion: Theology of the Multitude and Theology, Religion, and Class). Deep solidarity leads beyond advocacy in two ways. As those of us who do not belong to the one percent are increasingly pushed to the sidelines, even people in the middle are beginning to understand that we are more likely to be in the same boat with the poor and with working people. Solidarity is no longer a matter of the privileged helping the underprivileged; it is a matter of understanding what we have in common and how we all need to work together to organize and to embrace a different power.
Deep solidarity brings into focus God's power, which is different from the power of the one percent. Deep solidarity reminds us that Godself is found among the poor, among the Hebrew slaves of the Exodus, and among the widows, the orphans, and strangers of the Hebrew Bible. God is transforming the world in and through them. Just as God was and is in Jesus Christ, who was raised in a family of construction workers and lived in deep solidarity with the "least of these." The 99 percent are invited to join in this deep solidarity with God and others. Indeed, even those who are situated within the exalted one percent are called to "follow me" (see Matt. 19:21, Jesus addressing the rich young ruler).
Dr. Joerg Rieger is Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology at SMU. His work addresses the relation of theology to public life, including reflecting on the misuse of power in politics and economics and the alternative powers that emerge from the bottom up. His books include No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future (2009) and Religion, Theology, and Class: Fresh Engagements After Long Silence (2013). Rieger serves on the steering committee of the Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance and on the steering committee of Jobs with Justice in North Texas. He is co-founder of the Workers' Rights Board in the Dallas area.