As part of our orientation process, we participated in an activity called ‘The World of 76’. 76 is an important number, because that is the number of young adults being sent out into the world through this years program. 76 of us, sent into a world that is vast and complex and of which we are small pieces of the much larger picture.
And what kind of world are we being sent out into? I think that in this country, we have an illusion that we are the saviors of the rest of the world. That we have so much, and that we can also give so much to those less fortunate. Without giving too much away about the activity (in case future YAGM are reading), I have to say that this one flipped that mindset on its head. We were exposed to the realities of the way that resources are distributed in the world we live in. We were confronted with the things we do in this country that make things so much more difficult in other countries. I cannot speak for the rest of the group, but I was humbled when I witnessed the visual representation of how many weapons exist in the world today. I had no idea that there are enough weapons to kill everyone on the planet 56 times over.
So what does this mean for myself and my peers? How do we take the ideals that we grew up with and make them work in a global context that may view things starkly different? What does it mean to not be Americans in a global context, but to instead be God’s people? I will never claim to know the exact answer to any of those questions. But here are my thoughts on the subject.
I was raised with an understanding of two major characters in a faith context, Jesus and Muhammed. Both of these characters were revolutionary in their time, and it is from them that I draw my activist and advocate heart. However, Muhammed and Jesus also taught me something else, that the group that needs the teaching is the group that you are a part of. Both prophets spoke to their own people when creating the religions that we know of today. So, I draw on their example when I say that it is my job to see the world in all of its realities and speak to my own people about what I have witnessed. It is my responsibility to center the voices of those at the margins, and I mean the extreme margins, in order to bring balance to world we live in. My job is not to bring my idealistic views of the world and force that on people who need me to listen to their struggles in the rawest form. I think back to a quote by an activist:
If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is wrapped up in mine, then let us work togther
-Aboriginal Activist 1970s