Monday 17 April 2017

Light in the Dark...and Lines in the Sand

This past week, I've been looking at Gloria Anzaldua's book Light in the Dark which explores the role of imagination and empathy in creating social transformation. She focuses on that part of us which exists between worlds, between the world of dominant culture and our own imaginations, and between the world of the ordinary and the spiritual.

This book speaks of the chaos which sometimes shakes up our worldview when we start to look at the world from a holistic perspective. And she explores the struggles and confusions this brings to our lives.  As we search continually for the parts missing in dominant perspectives of the world, this sometimes means that our worldview constantly changes and evolves.  Exploring new knowledge or alternate perspectives can place us on a continuum between hope and despair.  But Gloria Anzaldua speaks of the traditional healer or shaman, who knew that in order to offer healing to his/her community, s/he needed to go through a process of being dismembered or torn apart.  When s/he is able to pull the pieces together again to create a new reality, s/he has something to offer.

This book also focuses a great deal on empathy, and the ability to see the perspectives of 'the other' in order to work towards change.  How interesting that my second book this week gave a lived example of how to this.

Lines in the Sand is by A.A. Gill, who writes with a great deal of sensitivity about the experiences of refugees, explaining that although he has tried not to be the good samaritan, once you stop and see the human face of 'the refugee', then it is impossible to ever turn away.  The book is a collection of articles which explore what it means to be displaced with such kindness and compassion that I found it hard to stop reading.

One of the articles which resonated most deeply though was the experience of going out to eat in a shelter for people who have no homes.  A.A. Gill speaks of the different cities we inhabit, depending on the lives we are able to live, and the opportunities open to us.  He introduced us to his own life, and the lives of those who have lost homes, families or opportunities, and the struggles many members of his (and any) city have from day to day.  There is the woman from West Africa who is in London without family or people.  She lost her job and her home.  Tears trickle down her face as she eats.

There is the Baptist Minister who no longer has a congregation.  He thanks God for chicken and rice.  Gill says:

"Now I don't know a damn about the mysterious ways of God, but I suppose it's no coincidence that at the heart of all religion there is food.  The sharing of food.  The act of feeding someone is the most basic transubstantiation.  To make them whole, and well, to feed their future, and the hope for the better tomorrow... "

He ends his article by explaining that we don't actually exist in different cities, that we still eat alongside people who are homeless, who are cleaners, who are abused, trafficked or kicked out.  We just choose to dis-remember.  He shares that 'others', including the volunteers who try to make a difference need our help.  Not a lot.  Just a little.  We all have something to offer.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home