There is a significant story which needs to be told repeatedly so it never goes away, so it can never be denied. It is a story we don’t often see, understand or even acknowledge in our community and country.
And what is the story?
It is a story about the relationships and services we share with each other and with those who are struggling. It is our human story of life and hope. The struggles might be momentary, lasting only a few weeks or months; or, they might be life-long circumstances needing to be made visible with the support and assistance needed together with the relationships embedded in people’s lives. It is a story of how our culture and society ‘manages’ and is ‘managed’ these days in our responses to human need, despair, vulnerability, brokenness and silence. And, how quickly we are silenced in the face of the fear of these possibilities being applied to ourselves and our instinctive reaction of turning away and pretending it doesn’t exist. How quickly we are silenced when we believe the stories of scapegoating and blame as a way of avoiding responsibility and accountability to each other and to creation.
Where do we find our courage and kindness when confronted with injustice, deprivation and discrimination which, once we’ve seen it we cannot unsee it; and for which a different story is demanded?
It is in the brutal reality of being silenced and marginalised, when we finally find ourselves shocked, appalled and knocked off balance because we have discovered where pervasive compromise and corruption has pooled and collected in the corners of our lives and communities, in our society and culture and we never noticed. When we discover corrosive cruelty, vindictiveness and hatred in the cracks and fissures of our fears, filling us up and occupying our hearts and minds without anyone noticing, so we are caught unawares, unprepared and brought to our knees, blaming others. And it is when we arrive in this place we find ourselves suddenly needing to learn resistance when its almost too late.
Such resistance needs to be learned, practiced and spoken. It needs to be built up internally within ourselves, and within the previously trusted systems, structures and communities. It is a practice of resistance strong enough to confront the managers of the circumstances, who have defined the limits of our democracy, our sense of fairness, justice and equity and who have become the judges and juries of the boundaries. Our resistance must confront those for whom the power inherent in their situation and in their way of living and being, consistently feeds their egos, as they determine the worldview and apparent paradigm in which we must live; and which limits any risk to those who need to be held accountable, the managers and technocratic professional leaders who have colonised and are destroying our democracy, our society, our culture and our lives.
It is worth noting whatever the human story, the experience becomes translated promptly by those in power, hollowed out and replaced as a toxic signifier, commodified and transactioned as a way of controlling all who are a threat. It becomes the small change between the power players, like slot machine tokens, used in an addictive world of politicised technocracy, swapped, discounted, sold.
We lose compassion and kindness. The commodified need is blunted, smoothed, dulled and packaged to ensure all human stories can be treated in the same way; the same policy response, the same reductionist approach, with the same risk assessments, the same blame game, the same cruel judgements, discrimination, ostracism and careless, automatic disgust of the ‘other. Human beings are made into commodities. It allows the ‘other’ to be pushed to the edges, into the dark corners, out of sight and over the edge, so the silence overwhelms and drowns the ‘other’s’ voice, presence and demand for justice. The silence kills the ‘other’ who is us, me, you, together unless we resist. Our humanity is diminished as we are invited to deny our God, our faith, our uniqueness as individual human beings, as we come to believe in our worthlessness, powerlessness, and accept we simply are a freak of fate, a cog in a human made machine, ground into nothingness, without a past or a future, only a present economic usefulness or a journey to the tip.
The despair and horror of such experiences is killing us all. We need to remember always, God can give life courage and kindness.