“Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever – your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.”Psalm 119: 42-46
Our world is writhing in pain; one could say it is in labour pains. There is no easy way to say it, and there are no fast solutions. It is both/and. Have you ever thought something was black and white and then a perspective shifts, changing everything?
Lately, I have been reading and re-reading the same Psalm and finding present tense inspiration from its poetry from centuries past.
“Then I’ll be able to stand up to their mockery. Don’t deprive me of your truth.”Psalm 119: 42 (the message)
I have walked alongside the pain and the after-effects of bullying for a few years with one of my children. It was something that one could laugh off quickly, but the reoccurring isolation and loneliness have been longlasting.
Social Media has felt like that same childhood battleground. Name-calling, shaming and public debates, outlined with the premise of activism. Each side brings misconduct, abuse, and the violence brings with it pain. Their voices cry out, desperately asking someone, anyone to listen and heal their grief. We desperately want to walk into the wide, free, open spaces of liberty and truth, but we struggle to apply the truth of commandments in our every day.
I often see activists, so passionate in their pursuit of the truth, but they petition with arrogance and lose sight of the voice of the person they are advocating for.
It is both/and.
Shame pervades every letter typed on a screen, shoulds, could, what-ifs and didn’t you know.
You haven’t posted!
What you have said is wrong, didn’t you know that?
That statement is patriarchal, sarcasm inserted.
That empathy is disempowering.
Activism does not give you the right to shame and mock another person’s perspective. When we access our advocacy from a place of hierarchy we forget that the education and understanding that we have, comes from a place of privilege.
You see, there are no quick fixes or words that aptly describe the problem that has been a problem for the whole existence of humanity. It is an oppression problem. It is a justice problem. It is an inequality problem. It is a distribution of wealth problem. And every single one of us contributes to the meta-narrative.
Until we all acknowledge our role and part to play in this supply chain, no transformation can begin to occur. And unless we sit in the seat of the learner and listen to one another’s stories, then how can we possibly bring change that is sustainable and long-lasting?
It all comes back to the foundation of trust. I have been learning change the way that we relate to one another and each of our lived experiences. These building blocks of trust within relationships and complex times have helped remind me of the importance of different perspectives to build empathy.
SPEAK UP WITH INTEGRITY– Are you actually living what you are posting about?
LISTEN TO HEAR– Are you listening to speak or hear?
VULNERABILITY BUILDS TRUST– Are you able to honestly share your own failures?
SHARE INFORMATION FREELY– Do you reveal all your sources and the places you have to gain insight from?
EMPOWER OTHERS– What is the agenda behind your advocacy? (Is it to make yourself gain or another?)
We all long for peaceful, wide-open spaces free from oppression but guard your heart, my dear internet friends. Question your motives, speak up for those who have lost their voices and do everything you can to sit in the seat of the learner rather than the one with all the answers.
I am learning that He is able, despite all of our complexity and pain. I want His ways above my own. I want His truth, above a filtered one. I want to see freedom come with peace in its path.