Through my strict religious upbringing, being in the world but not of the world was a core belief, creating a cushioned white heteronormative raising of myself and siblings who never questioned their ignorance and racism through traditional dominant hegemonic sociocultural norms. How could anyone with this upbringing be able to understand hardship, oppression, and lived experiences of those without my privilege? How can social justice and solidarity even begin to be understood by someone like me? Simply and humbly; it cannot. I cannot fathom the atrocities and genocides experienced and ongoing to Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized and oppressed communities. I have no concept of the rape and pillaging of the land, water, and air on mother earth, who has selflessly nurtured, fed, and warmed us since time began. I have no comparison with having to live in a tent, hoping it does not get thrown out while I am looking for food and the basic privilege of a bathroom.
But I can listen. I can unlearn my embedded discourses of patriarchal histories and narratives; my ignorance and omissions to strip bare the truths of my own prejudices, biases, and stereotypes and humbly, with curiosity and respect; listen. Listen to the cries and pleas of oppressed whose intersectional lived experiences create daily dangers that go unheard. Listen to the anger, the pain, the desperation as mother earths’ resources depletes and become extinct.
Listen to my inner stirrings, that voice that says this is not normal or natural, this is not justice! To be quiet; to absorb; to stand in solidarity is to begin to listen. Listen to the true stories, poems, and music told by those who are marginalized and oppressed. Asking questions, those that make you uncomfortable, and challenging those traditional discourses. Listening to the difference of empathy and compassion versus sympathy and white entitlement.
I am using my listening learned in this course to hear the heartbeat of Peterborough; the people by volunteering. Volunteering is a privilege that has altered my
personal stereotypes and biases that prejudiced my ability to be open, honest, and non-judgmental. It highlights the importance of coming together to care for one another, and that we all have a role to play in each other's lives. When I humbly step out of my box of ‘fixing’ through condescension, privilege, and ignorance, to the freedom and responsibility of exploring and reciprocal learning the beginnings of growth and awareness to create change start to sprout.
Photo credits Picture One: Listening with your h(ear)t. Earth School. Ear-thschool.com
Picture Two: Mother Earth is Crying: A Path to Spiritual Ecology and Sustainability. www.gcgi.info
Picture Three: Green sprout on Barren Soil concept. www.canstockphoto.com