Courage Raises Your Eyes to Possibilities
Standing on the south rim gazing into this geologic sculpture, I thought across thousands of years of human expansion. People like the Pueblo–lived and thrived above and below the mesas. They practiced irrigation, created art, and prospered with and sometimes in spite of the demands of nature. Brave, early inhabitants of the southwest refused to allow the fear of drought or invasion quell their courage to flourish and find harmony with this austere beauty.
Groups and individuals face exile daily. Exile comes for different reasons, such as:
*Broken and wounded by others
*Community inflicted exile
*Being a member of a despised or ostracized group
*Holding beliefs contrary to civil or religious beliefs
Choosing to hide, to live in fear perpetuates shame and further isolates the individual or community. Choosing to speak out against exile remains a powerful antidote to the problem; however, the allure of remaining a victim while speaking out comes at the cost of locking the cage door while staying inside. This is not courage.
Communities supporting exiled communities provides a better result only if the non-exiled community provides a pathway to freedom for the oppressed. The adage, “No one is free, until all are free” offers a powerful reminder to mentors and aid organizations to seek full emancipation for the downtrodden and shame-filled exile. The solution must include restoration and reconciliation. These take time and personal involvement.
We, who work as mentors and facilitators for the exile know that courage must begin in the individual. Additionally, we must find the courage to seek out the restoration of the exiles. We cannot cozily sit in our comfort zone and fail to risk for others. Who are the despised and outcast in your community? As I write today just forty miles south of Portland, Oregon, I cannot help but reflect on the awful tragedy of hate-filled murder from this past week.
I gladly cite the brave Annabelle Schwartz who campaigns and stands alongside of high school students who have been raped. I pray for more individuals like her. I also ask for hundreds more. Sometimes we have to stand alone, but our communities would be so much better if we stood together for reconciliation and restoration in ourselves and in our communities.