Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thurgood Marshall Starz

The risk of pity is that it kills with kindness; the promise of passion is that it builds on the hope that the poor are fully capable of helping themselves if given the chance.
-Nancy Gibbs

Just thought I'd share a fun picture from the school I've been volunteering at since fall: Thurgood Marshall Elementary. Every Wednesday I help in Ms. Pan's 4th grade class. The kids are great; they crack me up. Nearly all of them qualify for free/reduced lunch and belong to communities of color. The odds may be stacked against them--statistically they have no chance of overcoming the various barriers to high achievement--but when I see them singing and dancing to Chris Brown, I feel hopeful.

These kids fit the classic profile for "the oppressed." But as a classmate said today, it's not about pity. These kids aren't sitting around feeling sorry for themselves because they were born with the chips stacked against them. They're enjoying life!

And they've got these great new friends! In the picture are girls from Seattle Girls School, a non-profit focused on empowering young women and their communities. They laugh and play games together; it's obvious the kids LOVE being with their mentors.

When we look at any person--homeless, a survivor of domestic violence, a family at a food bank--it's not about the inward thought of, "Oh, poor homeless man" or "Oh, poor battered woman" or "Oh, poor family that can't make ends meet." We--I--need to stop seeing them as victims. These people can reach the freakin' stars if they wanted.

They are not victims. They have power and potential.

Similarly, WE are not victims in any situation or circumstance. WE have power and potential.

Christ looks at us and sees our potential. He knows our power because it's his power.

Aiming to see myself and others with the eyes of Jesus.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Politics: Is It Even Worth It?

One of my main classes this quarter is "Social Welfare Policy." Basically, the course content reviews any and all U.S. policies that affect vulnerable populations. That is to say, pretty much everything. My professor's approach is to look at major issues (poverty, homelessness, immigration, etc.) from the conservative and liberal perspectives.

I can't tell you how many awkward situations have come up in the classroom already. We've got some very dedicated Marxists on the one hand, stark Republicans on the other. Sometimes it gets downright hostile. It's like everyone is trying to impose their opinion on everyone else. I mean, really, it's dumb.

I don't understand politics. I mean, yes, obviously it would be important to advocate for those who don't have privilege and power--the populations I intend to serve for the rest of my life. But I can only take so much of this stupid game of Republicans and Democrats. It's like, can we PLEASE stop talking so philosophically and actually DO something???

The School of Social Work is telling us that as social workers it's our "professional responsibility" to be politically involved. To tell you the truth, I've only gone to two political rallies in my life. They were fun; not sure if they mattered at all. I guess I'm saying that I don't plan on becoming some crazy activist.

I've given up on politics.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.
Isaiah 12:2

It's kind of remarkable looking at my journal entries from only a couple of weeks ago and seeing how much my prayers have changed since then. Last quarter in the School of Social Work left me burnt out, bitter and cynical. It was hard for me to believe in God.

And then this past week it took something drastic to shake me out of my bitterness. As I sat in my room, reading this email about my Grandpa having to go to the emergency room at 1am, feeling myself about to cry uncontrollably, something within me broke. Well, broke open.

I still have questions for God. I don't understand why there's so much darkness and injustice in the world. But I think this week I realized how little control I have over the lives of others (protecting them, keeping them from harm) as well as over my own life. It was really sobering. Despite all we can do to "prepare for the worst" or to prevent anything bad happening in our lives and the lives of those we love, it's impossible.

Initially I was distraught about being "at the mercy of God" in this sense.. and to see my Grandpa at His mercy as well. It's frightening. And although I'm scared I am praying for the ability to trust and surrender. And as I am laying myself at the mercy of God I feel the bitterness and cynicism dissolving.

Curious, is it not?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Beginning Again..

So, yes, I am returning to the blogging world. It’s been a few years since I quit writing on xanga, for fear that I was becoming narcissistic. Well, I still think blogging is narcissistic, but I am really in need of a creative outlet. So many thoughts in my head want to come out, and refining them into a neat little “post” is therapy; it is process; it is insight!

I’m only inviting people I trust and that know me well. Some of the things I write I may not mean, or may not be true, but it’s how I feel at the time. Or sometimes the way I express myself is unclear. I’ve been misunderstood and judged a lot for either of these two things.

But I know the people I’ve invited into this blog love me enough to give me the space to be myself. Even if we may not agree, or I may be talkin' crazy, I know that every dialogue we open together is built on a mutual respect and care for the other. To have people like you in my life is a gift.

Anyway, onward!