Regarding the Tree of Contemplative Practices, a side branch of the “activist” branch is “bearing witness.”
What is “bearing witness”. One example is activists who travel to places where there is political and civil injustice. These activists live in communities, observe, report, and bear witness to events as they occur. This serves the purpose of making sure corruption is reported by someone who can speak for those who may be muted by the corruption.
It reminds me of the movie Ghandi. In the movie Martin Sheen plays a newspaper reporter. I was struck by the importance of the reporter’s role in Ghandi’s ability to enact reform.
I’m sitting in front of City Hall.
Two nights ago this area was full of people bearing witness to our mayor and city council. From news reports, Facebook posts, and Youtube videos you can paint a picture in your mind of that night. Perhaps you paint a picture of Stevante Clark jumping up on the dais and yelling in front of our mayor. Perhaps you paint a picture of peaceful protestors practicing civil disobedience, practices exemplified most perfectly by Ghandi. Perhaps you paint pictures of police officers remaining still in the face of taunts and pointed fingers.
I’m sitting in front of City Hall and it is quiet except for the small aircraft buzzing overheard, the dribble of water down the courtyard water fountain, and the voice of an occasional passerby.
Years ago, before the affliction of the three D’s, I was a witness bearer. I attended school board meetings and spoke against the closure of 7 neighborhood schools in our city. I didn’t have much clout, but I had stories.
The schools closed – part of the problem – foreshadowing.
During my public comments before the school board I took the book A Tale of Two Cities as a prop. “A Tale of Two City Schools” was the theme of my comments: my city school where my kids had abundance (our PTA would raise close to $80,000 annually to supplement the budget constraints) versus the city schools which were on the brink of closure.
In A Tale of Two Cities Madame Defarge seems to be a witness bearer. She sits and knits and observes. I often took my knitting with me to the school board meetings. Pretending I was Madame Defarge, I’d scowl between stitches as the school board voted (in a near split decision) to close the schools.
You know…I never finished A Tale of Two Cities. And funny thing….I just went to do some research for this post and read further into Madame Defarge. Turns out she is the antagonist of the novel. She plots to send the protagonist to the guillotine. She is deeply bitter from the tragedy her family endured at the hands of aristocrats. She cannot see past her need for revenge and justice.
Hmmmmm…..perhaps Madame Defarge was not the best character for me to attempt to mimic.
Regardless , I sat in front of City Hall today knitting a prayer shawl. My parking meter time was about up and I was getting sleepy so I headed home. I missed witnessing the protests. I left too soon. The evening news shows the protesters are at the street on which I parked earlier today.
As I knit I pray…
–I pray our city can demonstrate peaceful protests and real reform
–for Stephan’s family, for their ability to grieve at their pace
–for all who fear – may they recall God says, “Fear only me.”
–for honest reconciliation
–for the end of the impossible cycle of revenge
A good city song..