Daily Riches: Moving Upstream for Social Change (Oscar Romero, Saul Alinsky, and Janey Skinner)

“Imagine a large river with a high waterfall. At the bottom of this waterfall hundreds of people are working frantically trying to save those who have fallen into the river and have fallen down the waterfall, many of them drowning. As the people along the shore are trying to rescue as many as possible one individual looks up and sees a seemingly never-ending stream of people falling down the waterfall and begins to run upstream. One of other rescuers hollers, ‘Where are you going? There are so many people that need help here.’ To which the man replied, ‘I’m going upstream to find out why so many people are falling into the river.’ Saul Alinsky

“[Other] rescuers notice that while there are too many babies coming floating down the river to save them all, the chubby ones float pretty well, so they focus on pulling out the skinny ones. One of the rescuers jumps in and starts teaching the babies in the river how to swim.” Janey Skinner

“… if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest flows naturally.” Oscar Romero

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Amos 5:23,24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you good at worship (“songs and harps”) and weak on seeing to “justice?” How about your church?
  • Have you ventured into the river to try to help it’s victims?
  • Have you ventured upstream to try to try to discover the cause of the crisis?
  • Is all your time and energy invested in “pulling out the skinny ones” and “teaching babies how to swim?”

Abba, make my religion one of doing not only of thinking and believing. Make my attempts to help others wise ones, not only sincere and determined ones.

For More: Welcoming Justice by Charles Marsh and John Perkins


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

One thought on “Daily Riches: Moving Upstream for Social Change (Oscar Romero, Saul Alinsky, and Janey Skinner)

  1. “And so this afternoon in a real sense [the victims] have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.” Martin Luther King in 1963, delivering a eulogy for the victims of the Birmingham church bombings (This special edition of Daily Riches is occasioned by the mass murder of congregants in the Emanuel AME church in Charleston.)


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