WISDOM FOR JUSTICE
Religion at its very best is universal. It knows no boundaries, transcends all divisions and labels, judges not, excludes none. It is the ancient and eternal quest for a decent humanity, for caring societies and communities, for seeking unity with others. It accepts. It knows the human acts of thinking, questioning, doubting, of fearlessly seeking the truth, as deeply moral endeavors. It moves convictions to actions.
The Wisconsin faith based organization known as Wisdom is the embodiment of religion at its best. A member of the international network known as the Gamaliel Foundation, Wisdom is dedicated to improving the lives of the people of Wisconsin. In their own words:
“WISDOM is a grassroots organization, comprised mostly of religious congregations of many denominations, which works to have a common voice on issues of social justice. In all, WISDOM includes participation from about 160 congregations, of 19 different religious traditions.” “WISDOM and its local organizations have been active in promoting Immigrant Rights, Economic Justice, Health Care availability, Public Transportation, and more.”
Additionally, Wisdom clearly states that although they are faith based, “all people of good will are welcome to belong.” Indeed, Wisdom’s basic declarations can be taken as a universal guide for a caring society no matter one’s personal beliefs:
- We believe in the God-given dignity and infinite worth of each and every human life
- We believe that we are each and all part of a sacred community, to which we have responsibility and from which we gain sustenance.
- We believe that our faith calls us to work for justice and liberation, standing against all forms of oppression and inequity.
- We believe we are called to be stewards of the natural world in all its bounty and diversity.
- We believe in shared abundance and stand against the dominant culture of reckless consumption and consumerism for some and deprivation for others.
- We believe in the triumph of love and hope over hate and fear.
Perhaps one of the most important actions currently being taken by Wisdom is their “11X15” effort to transform Wisconsin’s criminal justice system. The “Eleven-by-Fifteen” Campaign is a challenge to all the people of the State of Wisconsin to cut our prison population from 22,000 to 11,000 by the end of 2015. Though a seemingly overwhelming goal, the blueprint provided by Wisdom makes it clear that we can, and must, reach this goal.
Wisconsin’s incarceration system is literally bankrupting our state while utterly failing to effectively reduce crime or address its underlying social causes. We now spend more on prisons than we do on higher education, and compared to demographically similar Minnesota, we jail more than twice the number of people:
But perhaps the greatest tragedy caused by excessive incarceration in Wisconsin is the countless numbers of non-violent people who are not only not being helped through imprisonment, but are actually being harmed in terms of their ability to become productive members of society. The loss to Wisconsin goes far beyond any monetary value.
Please take the time to learn about Wisdom and the work they are doing with the 11X15 campaign. This is a remarkable organization of caring citizens. They are an enormous asset to our state.
The following links will take you to Wisdom and the 11X15 campaign. You will see videos of relevant events and hear stories of struggle, reform, and hope: