I have to say that I am disappointed in my world.  The older I get, the more I live through, the more this is true.  Disappointed, by the way, is a very understated word in this case. It pains me, it devastates me, to see the ways people justify destroying the earth, brutalize people of color, refuse to help refugees, don’t hesitate to increase the divide between the rich and the poor by giving more and more to those who already are rich and taking away from the poor, the underprivileged and the oppressed even the little that they have.  The more I see, the more I have come to believe that there really are people who choose evil in this world: they choose to “otherize” anyone who does not look like them or have the same wealth, power or general life situation as them: they “otherize”, then villainize, then work to actively oppress, injure, destroy and damage anything that gets in the way of them acquiring more money and more power for themselves.  I’ve spent years trying to understand the fear that could cause this kind of behavior, and I have no doubt that I will continue to try to understand it.  But as I read in one of my study leave books this week, “it is problematic to refuse to see willful intent to commit evil.” (p73 of Sustaining Hope in An Unjust World by Timothy Charles Murphy. MA: Chalice Press, 2019).  I don’t like to see it that way.  But as I read his arguments, I had to agree.  There is evil here: intentionality in harming the earth and other people to obtain what a person wants for themself.  The author goes on to say, “progressives have the bias that education will solve most problems,” and I admit that I, too, have had this bias.  I have mistakenly assumed that people are cruel and do horrible things to others because they just don’t understand.  And I’ve had to come to a new awareness that many do understand. And are choosing to do harm, because it serves them.  That awareness is devastating to me.  I don’t understand it.  I can’t comprehend it.  But I am having to accept it.
       I have to admit that those moments of acceptance of this reality often lead me to a place of abject despair, in which I see the upcoming destruction of our planet (probably through climate change, and probably much sooner than many imagine) as the natural and logical consequential ending for a species that has, itself, become a virus: one that feeds off of the earth, other creatures and even other people by destroying them.  In those moments of despair I think “Well, we deserve this.  Maybe once we’ve wiped ourselves out the earth can begin to heal.”  But then I look at my children, and I hear the birds, and I see pictures of elephants and forests and I cannot bear the thought of all of them being wiped out because of our selfishness and greed.
        More, I have come to realize that the choice to NOT act, the choice to just sit and do nothing while the earth spins out of control; this is a choice that comes from a place of privilege.  Black people do not have the choice to avoid involvement when their families, their friends, their communities are being slaughtered in this country.  Those who are already being devastated by climate change were not given the choice to avoid being devastated by the climate chaos. Those who are refugees escaping deadly home situations do not have a choice about being affected by policies that refuse to grant them safe spaces to live and raise their children.  And the list goes on.
       So, in spite of my devastation, in spite of my sense of despair, in spite of the grief that I feel on a daily basis now for my image of what our world could be, should be, would be, I have to choose to act on behalf of the “least of these” to the best of my ability, to stand with the disenfranchised, exploited, oppressed and poor, no matter what the cost to my personal life.  As a post I saw recently said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”  Because I believe deeply that we are all connected, that when you hurt, I am hurting too (whether I know it or not!), in some ways I think this comment is inaccurate.  So perhaps, I would say it this way, “Justice will not be served until those who are oblivious to their own personal damage at the hands of the injustice are as outraged as those who are obviously and outwardly devastated by the injustice.”  Either way, I feel called to action.  And I hope that you will join me.

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