What I see defines who I am becoming, part V

What I see defines who I am becoming, part V

It is not about me, yet it is. It is impossible to offer something that I am not, how can I offer peace to a world of war if within me, I have none? How can I offer love to a world bound in fear and hatred if I have not love? I’ve come to see things from a very different perspective, realizing that more important than academic knowledge or technical skills, is the ability to see and embody hope when all that is visible is despair.

I have discovered that this is my place in international engagement; to ardently hope against all odds, and in so doing, to bring a reality that has been re-named9, a whole story being shared, and a future that redeems its past into existance. Hope is born out of perseverance, and is not truly hope lest it touches the ordinary, speaks into the problems of daily life, and exists in and through relationship. I want to learn to have relationship with undiscovered brother and sisters around the world who continue to struggle towards justice when there is none. I want to see their stories from the inside out, not only to position myself in a theoretical way void of experience, but to recognize that my place in ethical engagement is not distance, but relationship; relationship that dismantles ‘development strategies’ and challenge hollow attempts towards economic revitalization.

References: (part I-V)

  • Adichie, C. “The Danger of a Single Story” ://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html
  • Freire, P. (2007). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. Chapter 3, pp 87-124
  • Galeano, E. (1973). Open Veins of Latin America. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  • Nouwen, Henri.(1975). Renewed For Life, Daily lenten meditations from the Works of Henri J. M. Nouwen. The Crossroad Publishing Company. p. 16
  • Said, E. on “Orientalism” [four part documentary]retrieved 02/03/2011 from:http://youtube.com/

4 Adichie, C.

5Galeano, E. (1973) Open Veins of Latin America. New York: Monthly Review Press.

6Friere, P. (2007). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. Chapter 3, pp. 87-124

7Friere, Paolo

8Nouwen, Henri, Renewed for Life

9Freire, Paolo


Faulty Towers

I am learning that the process of learning often begins with a sharp slap in the face as I recognize the many ways in which I have illusions- illusions about myself, about others, and about the workings of the world. Of late, I have found myself in a constant quandry about my place in the world- perhaps it is the subject matter I am studying, but it seemed as if one question led to another, and suddenly, my entire world view, one that advocated international service, has been nearly eroded.  Hmm.  This has left me in a bit of a pickle, and yet, the farther into the questions, the more dis-illusioned I am becoming. 

That which is built on faulty foundations will not stand.  Obvious, yet the very structures that sustain the world today seem to have missed this point.  In contrast, the psalms describe a king and His throne, one whose foundations are righteousness and justice, a throne that will endure forever, one that will not be shaken.  In fact, to receive the kingdom of God, (another thing that doesnt make sense at all according to this world, a camel entering through the eye of a needle, becoming a child, becoming born again), is to receive a kingdom that is unshakeable, that when everything in the world that can be shaken has been shaken, the kingdom, whose very foundations are all that is right, and all that is just, will remain. This is our inheritance.

Studying a world whose foundations seem to be as unstable and unequitable as can be threatens to either bring me to a point of dismay at the hopelessness of it all, or bring me to a sense of incredible joy that this world is passing, and a new world is on its way.  A kingdom that is built on justice, a king who lifts the poor out of the dust, and the needy out of the ashes, who is the advocate for those who are oppressed. I am left in the chasm of asking, what does “international service” look like in the dynamic tension between the ushering out of a world who in essence, is not sustainable, and the coming of a kingdom in which all is as it should be?