Here is an ancient aphorism:
If the test of tolerance comes when you are in the majority, the test of courage comes when you are in the minority.
To be in the minority does not mean there are fewer people who think as you than there are of those who think otherwise. To be in the minority may mean only this; you are not in power.
Power protects itself. The Powerful may use obscure parliamentary rulings, tacit agreements made behind the scene, simple acts of raw strength; all of these can blunt the thrust of reform. Each one, and a thousand of its cousins, are meant to protect power.
The Power Elite may rewrite reality in order to protect their place. The modern rewrite of history holds the American Civil War was unnecessary, for African slavery would have disappeared within fifty to one hundred years as industrialization took over labor’s tasks. One wonder what a further three generations of persons held in forced servitude would have voted about their race’s inevitable emancipation, if they had a vote.
By this rationale, the European Holocaust would have ended if everyone had just held their place until Germany ran out of Jews.
Simply put, nothing is inevitable until it occurs. People can still hurt while the sands of time pour through the eye of the hour glass. More cunningly said, the stance of Christianity on the matter of evil is this; evil must be actively opposed. The Christian answer to the problem of innocent suffering is to act against innocent suffering, which in turn implies, on occasion, the need to resist the prosperous wicked.
No organization may have or hold power simply because it has the power to do so.
When out of power, it is not necessary to unfold a detailed plan of opposition. It is enough to point out the foibles of the powerful party, to work within the system if one can and to smash it when necessary. If one is shut out of power for a generation the result may be a permanent under class, with those in force expressing feelings of permanent entitlement. The faces in power may change but the cause remains the same; protect the public trough for one’s own use. Share it with as few as possible.
Courage is required to say no, whenever no is a socially unacceptable assertion.
The source of courage might be civility, or the desire for civility. Courage to quest for civility may spring from deep feelings of social responsibility. The Church is not a bad place to inculcate ideals of social responsibility but The Church is too often (and too sadly) the last place where reform might take hold. The Church often holds itself up as “an assembly of the just, when it is more likely “…an assembly of the elite (Bonhoeffer).
If the Church cannot identify with the sufferings of the sufferer to oppose those who bring on suffering the Church fails to identify with its own Savior. The Church ceases to be Christian or even religious.
The failure is not one of faith, often, but of courage. Without courage, faith does not matter much.