the person we’ve all been

Not to know yourself is dangerous, to that self and to others. Those who destroy, who cause great suffering, kill off some portion of themselves first, or hide from the knowledge of their acts and from their own emotion, and their internal landscape fills with partitions, caves, minefields, blank spots, pit traps, and more, a landscape turned against itself, a landscape that does not know itself, a landscape through which they may not travel….

You see it too in the small acts of everyday life, of the person who feels perfectly justified, of the person who doesn’t know he’s just committed harm, of the person who says something whose motives are clear to everyone but her, of the person who comes up with intricate rationales or just remains oblivious, of the person we’ve all been at one time or other….

Many of the great humanitarian and environmental campaigns of our time have been to make the unknown real, the invisible visible, to bring the faraway near, so that the suffering of sweatshop workers, torture victims, beaten children, even the destruction of other species and remote places, impinges on our imagination and perhaps prompts you to act.

– Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

social power and depression

[on the role of justice in the experience of depression]:

The United Nations—in its official statement for World Health Day in 2017—explained that “the dominant biomedical narrative of depression” is based on “biased and selective use of research outcomes” that “cause more harm than good, undermine the right to health, and must be abandoned.” There is a “growing evidence base,” they state, that there are deeper causes of depression, so while there is some role for medications, we need to stop using them “to address issues which are closely related to social problems.” We need to move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’ to focusing on ‘power imbalances.’”

– Johann Hari, Lost Connections

the truth about myself

By accepting the truth about myself and my actions, I am moving towards a more honest and whole life. Though painful, it is important that I see the impact of my own choices (for example, I must understand that the clothes I just bought at the store are made by workers in developing countries who are often underpaid and working in unsafe factory environments). Once I understand this impact, I can let it hurt me and let it change me. I can let it illuminate my darkness, broaden my understanding, and deepen my love. For honesty’s sake, I need to see my own desire for material gain, and how I sometimes place it above the well-being of the world’s most vulnerable. This is the tension that, should I choose to bear it, will transform me.

rejecting the legal fiction of “discovery”

[Excerpts from a statement (and not guilty plea) from one of those found guilty today and sentenced to a week in jail by the Supreme Court of BC as a result of his stand in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples resisting the Trans Mountain Pipeline]:
We were invited as people of prayer to join those who were lifting their  hearts in ceremony on the frontlines. We were invited to ponder, in that contested space, what our commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action mean — including Call #49 (the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery) and Call #48 (the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ). But we were also invited to act; to stand up in solidarity and support the peaceable struggle against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline through untreatied Tsleil-Waututh lands and waters.

And so I did.

I chose to act because at the center of the Christian faith lies the conviction that the Creator suffers with the oppressed; that God takes sides with the victims over-against the dominant powers; and that the people who see the issues of our day most clearly are those pushed to the sociopolitical margins.

I chose to act because my church has publicly rejected the legal fictions of Discovery and together with communities of faith across these lands, has committed itself to “a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, based on sharing, respect and the recognition of rights and responsibilities.”
– Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada. Click here for complete statement including footnotes for the above.

cure for a groaning world?

[Passing on this quotation from the MCC Ottawa Office newsletter]

We need to take more seriously the immense impact of our own empathy, of our own engagement – of our responsibility both to comfort those who suffer and to awaken those who suffer from too much comfort. Just as the oppressed must be made whole, so too must the complacent…The cure that a world groaning from emptiness needs most is a grassroots conspiracy of authenticity, implemented by transactions of selfless beauty,”

– Payam Akhavan, In Search of a Better World: A human rights odyssey, 333-334.