In his film Eight Mile, the title refers to Eminem’s story of growing up only 8 miles from downtown Detroit, an area of high unemployment, depopulation, abandoned buildings, crime and fragmented families. James has already mentioned that as we drove from Detroit out to Flint, we saw that by each ‘mile road’ the houses got bigger, the abandoned buildings got fewer, graffiti lessened, cars increased, restaurants increased, grocery stores and gyms appeared. The problems that effect the city centres are not problems that many of the people who live further out in the suburbs have to live with. Many of these people drive in daily to run the governing systems and work in the offices. Both Flint and Detroit are big cities, too big in size to be supported financially in their infrastructure, and so a lot of the money stays in the suburbs. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
It challenges me to think about how we challenge the injustices that are not quite on our doorstep as well as the ones that are. In fact, how hard do we try to move our doorsteps further away from poverty and chaos altogether? There are plenty of churches in Flint and Detroit with people in doing great things, but are equally plenty of derelict churches. James 1:27 reminds us of our duty to look after those who can’t look after themselves, but also to keep ourselves “unstained” by the world. Do we think of keeping ourselves “unstained” by moving away from dirt, squalor and poverty, or by walking into it?