I do take exception to the statement "there is no one you will ever under any circumstances have to look in the eye know that you failed them." With regard to "earthcare," even though I am not clear or agree on all of the issues under that category, I do look in the eyes of my children, ages 37-44, and especially the eyes of my grandchildren, ages 4-11, and truly am concerned what the earth will be like when they reach adulthood. My concern about "failing" them is that when the effects of the current situation are felt there will be much more drastic measures required.
I also believe that many of the issues of racism and possibly even sexism (having to do with power/control) have to do with "environmental/energy" greed.
However, I do agree that often racism and sexism are much more directly related to an individual's daily activity than others. I once heard a story about a minister who in raising certain issues was admonished for going from preaching to meddling. I think this may well be applicable to the reason for some of the concerns discussed here. I think we often resist "meddling" and prefer "preaching."
Yeah, I love that video, though I've seen it a few times now and it makes me cry every time.
I think some of it depends on how tuned in you are in the first place (not like how good a person you are, we are all tuned in differently to different things) - I sort of theoretically know that sort of thing happens, but to see it in action, and to see that white people usually do nothing even when it's THAT BAD is literally sickening. So for many people, just being shown that level of horror is horrifying, that's as far as they get. The more you walk through the world completely aware of that horror, the more you see how wonderful it is that one white person out of, what did they say, 100?) reacted as if it were her problem too (that's sort of how I see being a really good ally - when you own the problem as yours even if it's not targeted at you.- not in a bossy, taking over sort of way, but just as if you can't stand it either, as if the other person is family, I don't know, I can't quite put my finger on it, and every way I try to say it sounds wrong.)
I know that I have done nothing in "less extreme" cases - I have certainly watched people of color being put into cop cars without asking questions - because there's an authority figure, right? and what am I supposed to do? Because legally the cops should only be taking them away if they "deserve it" - right?
I think that's a great idea, and I will start doing it too!
Tom, I sort of knew someone would say something like that, but didn't have the energy to cover it while I was writing before.
Of course in a very real way, you are right. Some of it is that many of the people who's eyes we're talking about looking in are implicated too, AND it's everybody, and lots of people don't realize it yet. At some point the proverbial shit will hit the fan. Maybe we'll still be around to look in the next generation's eyes as it happens, maybe not.
But it's very different. I'm talking about, there are cows out there right now suffering. we could theoretically be there in front of them, looking in their eyes, asking the question, am I really deciding, at my last meal, and or my next one to support this? I am paying people to do this right now....
Same with racism as is so well exposed in the video Jeanne talks about. There are people people with names who are trapped in horrible lives because of institutional racism. You could theoretically find them look them in the eye learn their names, ask them about it right here right now, and know that you are part of the horror.
Environmentalism is so different. It's horrible what we're doing to the planet but we get more used to it as we go along and it's much more evenly shared among us. I don't know how to explain it better than that but it's very different
We had started to "consider" pros & cons of the proposal to help people facing deportation, and then someone just said basically "Hey, it's what we're called to do" and we immediately approved it. The kind of process I like to see and be in!
I like the way this discussion has moved. "What should I do?" is the important question, isn't it? "Why aren't Quakers more...." (take your pick of the many ways Friends express disappointment with each other) seems far less valuable to me. Why do we think we ought to be better than other people? In any case, I don't find my meeting to be unconcerned about social justice, race, class, gender, etc. Dismantling racism has been a particular concern during this past year because our little city had a "dialogue on race" intended to address long standing injustices and lack of communication.
I had determined not to respond to Pam when she dismissed my environmental concern for my grandchildren etc. intending to not start a "discussion" as to validity or "importance" of concerns. However, a post just a few moments ago by Marshall Massey on Facebook (“No one can love people — or penetrate the mysteries of human meaning — who does not love at least one person deeply. Idealistic movements — whether religious or political — have always suffered from persons who can love humanity in the abstract or in future generations but are blind to the immediate needs and rights of individuals here and now.” — David Dellinger, pacifist & activist, born 95 years ago today!) made me think that maybe the issue was that the "abstractness" of my concern was being compared to the "immediacy" of others. I agree that racism and sexism have an "immediacy" to them and must be addressed. However, I also see environmental damage also has an immediacy. I spoke of looking in my grandchildren's eyes, but for me they are the immediate reflection of humanity's "eyes." How many people are NOW suffering in Bhopal, even though the "event" it was years ago; near Chernobyl, radiation being released by fires possibly caused to some degree by global warming; in the Swat Valley in Pakistan; in China from mudslides; etc. These are what I see reflected in my grandchildren's eyes. I see an ocean of darkness that threatens them now and in the future, but I also believe there is an ocean of light that can overcome the darkness if we each address the concerns that are given to us.
Pam and N. Jeanne,
First let me say I have not watched the video, so this comment is not about the video, but the issue. As an African American woman and Friend, I am often shocked by what another poster called the ignorance of some Friends about the daily realities of being a person of color in the United States. Sadly, there is nothing unusual or uncommon about what you described in the video. It is just an example of one of the many reasons people of color grow weary of discussing power, privilege, and prejudice with well meaning people of other races. It is tiring to deal with these issues daily and then try to discuss them with others who do not share the experiences.
I am in the midst of racism and white privilege discussions as part of school of the spirit, and it is wearing me out. This is my cynicism peeking out, but being asked "what do black people think about... or why do black people...?" makes me laugh out loud AND makes my heart hurt at the same time. I am an individual. I do not speak for an entire race of people and why assume that everyone thinks the same way because they are of the same race? I have seriously digressed, so I will stop. I won't delete the post, but I will stop.
I hear you! And it so interestingly ties into racism and classism(?) money-ism anyway. Those people in Bhopal are, I think mostly dark skinned and mostly poor. I do not have occasion to look into their eyes either though I could.
I did not mean in any way to say that environmental issues are not important, just that somehow it is easier to jump on that bandwagon without being daily faced with the horror of the problem (more because the problems are huge and somewhat unfathomable than because they're not "that bad" or something)
I'm sorry to hear about your experience at the School of the Spirit. Have you said what you wrote here to those who ask you those questions? They need to hear it, even though you're tired of having to say it.
I was like that when I was younger. I grew up in an all white (or almost) suburb, and when I started to interact with black people in college I was extremely curious about them. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that someone might not like being treated like an ambassador from another planet, but it didn't. It was only as an adult working with and volunteering alongside of black people that I got over that weirdness.
I've noticed the same patterns when I have lived in other countries. It's the thing that makes being an expat so lonely. People treat you as if you're more of an exemplar of your culture than an individual--answerable for its faults, full of whatever qualities are part of the stereotype.
People tend to worship the god of comfort. Books are much more comfortable to discuss than equality. Equality is at the heart of all justice. Anytime a group of people are marginalized and / of disenfranchised a myriad of injustices will follow. This is not prophesy, this is history.