Last night, the lovely Greggo accompanied me to a talk by Father G, founder of Homeboy Industries. My boss had sent me the flyer weeks ago, as a case with which I had been presented had large emphasis on gang life. I’m literally a small town girl from Montana and now living in Milwaukee, felt way out of my element. When this event came my way, I realized it could be a great learning opportunity to help me integrate my advocacy into the urban life. There was an opportunity to attend a training for service providers, but I was honestly scared, intimidated and didn’t want to seem naive and ignorant, so I opted to attend the public speaking event. I am now literally and figuratively kicking myself for not making more of the opportunity to learn from such an amazing man.
One of the things I realized while listening to his amazing stories of kinship and love, was how much I missed learning from wise religious leaders (that are not my lovely Father Dad 🙂 ). My personal confusion on religion, my beliefs, integrating feminism and traditionalism in way that works for me, has left me a little empty. I knew I missed the comfortable meditation that comes to me from within the repetition of Mass- whatever the religious connotation the service holds for me that day- but last night I realized that I also really miss being inspired by the wonderful, caring and lovely people that understand the importance of serving others. While my religious feelings are still all over the place, this man’s mes
sage of kinship, of seeing no difference between yourself and a gang member, and the awe that inspires within us, for us to feel the worth of our souls by seeing the worth of everyone else’s, gave me goosebumps almost the entire time he was speaking and brought tears to my eyes many times for many reason. It is this love, this perspective, in which I see no fault with religion. There may be other parts I miss, but hearing this man speak filled an empty part of me with such warmth and that power is something I cannot deny or logic away.
Returning to work today, after hearing such an amazing and inspiring presentation, had me even more ready than ever to do some helping. Unfortunately, I have realized and am continually realizing that I do not get to dictate the pace of this new position, nor the intensity and randomness of the cases I have and will see. So instead of actively advocating, I returned to my current habit of sneaking through my friend Jo‘s blogroll, finding fun powerful feminist women who I would not only like to read on a daily basis, but also see as more inspiration for finding my own place within the blogging community with this little number. I found my way though a couple of blogs to whom I’ve subscribed and will be able to fill out. I found someone who I want to be my best friend and have subscribed knowing that will be a permanent one, and through one of her posts found another on the definition of rape culture.
A problem I have had with my blogs in the past is they become far to personal places where I reflect on my own victimization at the hands of this disgusting misogynistic part of our society. I do understand the importance of personal reflection, but for me up to this point (nor will it probably ever be), its no where near ready to be public, even on the anonymous internet. I’m rarely even comfortable identifying as a victim/survivor in a room full of service providers or activists. That being said, my own experiences were not the only reasons that after reading that post, I was left trembling, tears behind my eyes, and once again, in awe. I first thought of how different this awe was than that I experienced last night, but came around to see the error in that. My awe is at the power of the human nature, good or bad-At the ability of a wonderful priest to work with previous gang members, treating them as equals and understand the resiliency of the poor through their gang lifestyles and employing such mottoes as “nothing stops a bullet like a job” and at the same time at the horrid nature of our culture blaming the victim, perpetuating rape myths, not supporting activists, not believing victims, teaching the “hook-up” scenarios that perpetuate rape, and at the same time excusing perpetrators for ignorance.
My awe is at all of that. Its just not so often that I see the range of awe that I have in the last 12 hours.
This post is heavy, but I think, good for me to write.
I end with two pictures. One an obvious self portrait of the day and the other, my favorite part of my desk.