Arthur Ammann, M.D., is a pediatric immunologist and advocate known for his research on HIV transmission in women and children and his role in the development of the first successful vaccine to prevent pneumococcal infection. Dr. Ammann is the founder of Global Strategies and is the author of three books. He’s here today to talk about his latest book, (in)Visible, which is about “how Jesus leads us to discover people who are of value to Him so that they might be transformed as better for having met us.”
In (in)Visible you write, “Christians, in particular, when confronted with issues of justice and equity, must ask themselves two questions: “For what purpose have I achieved my position of power?” and, “Could it be that the wealth I have achieved was not just for me but so others can have the same opportunities as I’ve had?”
Of course, most of us don’t perceive ourselves as “powerful” or “wealthy,” yet we are all confronted with issues of justice and equity. How might those of us who see ourselves as everyday folks use our lives to discover and transform those around us?
How we perceive our own value depends on whether we accept a definition that is imposed on us or one that is defined by God and accepted by us. Influences that come from the outside—the media, the corporate world, education, and even religion—put before us images that would have us believe there are only a small set of individuals to address issues of justice and equity. They are the wealthy and use their wealth to invoke change or urge others to invoke them; they are the powerful and address issues of justice by means of political solutions; or they are famous and use their fame to call attention to issues of justice and equity. Individuals—“ordinary people”—are left out or made to feel that issues such as equity and justice are best left to the experts and the technocrats. The teachings of Jesus tell us otherwise. They are counterintuitive. The Beatitudes talk about weakness, mercy, peacemaking and compassion—these are the characteristics of those to whom “the earth belongs.”
The Gospels provide us with examples of individuals in the shadows, some of whom were deemed not valuable, yet they brought about change. Jesus focused on individuals because it is within an individual that the sense of justice must begin—even within ordinary individuals. There are issues of justice and equity in our everyday life, within our families and our communities, and we have the power to change them. Love, compassion, and forgiveness are not characteristic of governments or social organizations, but they are the characteristics that individuals can use to transform those who surround them. We encounter issues of justice and equity every day and see the pain and suffering that can result from the seeming indifference. We can bring about justice and equity whether it’s paying a higher wage to a day worker; going deeper into a conversation with someone who is neglected, overlooked, ignored, or trivialized; or helping someone who is facing the barriers of gender, race, education, or poverty.
You can read the rest of today’s interview here.