Listening to each other's stories of experiences of oppression and liberation to inform and take action for healing and justice.

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The above statement, "Listening to eachother's stories of experiences of oppression and liberation to inform and take action for healing and justice," reflects the shared vision for "Healing, Transforming, and Ending Oppression" that the discussion group came up with on Friday of last years conference. As a seed for further discussion, I offer the group's summary of their continued discussion on Saturday afternoon, which offers ideas for putting that vision into action:

"To end oppression, achieve a transformation process and healing via political channels by proposing and supporting bills in Congress. To search for a transformation process by the experience of learning about and working to understand how others have been oppressed by different dominant groups and relating their experiences to our own. To seek support from the different national institutions. Channel the spirit and vision of Gandhi & King. Seek to dissolve judgmental attitudes."
I'm not sure where this reply is going, hopefullly to all of us interested in healing oppression.

This conversation is so timely for me. At a small gathering last night of DC dialogue/deliberation wonks, we or at least I played around with how to introduce "inner work" to dominant culture groups (aka "mainstream") in ways that don't threaten/turn off.

One person suggested "appreciative inquiry" which of course is sweet work to focus on what works, but it occurred to me is that we need... as a society and as human beings wanting more contentment....more willingness and an intentional way to do "PAIN INQUIRY"--like what Joanne Macy has organized around environmental despair. Hearing/sharing these/our stories is so connecting, moving, tenderizing, inspiring...

Great films/novels also do some of this testifying/witnessing for us...I know I do my work today, as a euroamerican woman, partly because of the inspiration of To Kill a Mockingbird 40+ years ago.

Interestingly, as men, I'm not sure I see in King and Gandhi as much comfort with "the personal" but I may be wrong...although I guess G would call these all "experiments in truth".

Hope this affirms, supports others caring and contributing--it's helping me get going this morning!
My convergence group discussed "Healing, Transforming and ending Oppression" which was followed up with the "I Am A Man" film. This totally got us interested and inspired. Some of us followed this up with the film on the Freedom Riders and their experiences which was sad but showed courage in the face of it all. Then some of us further saw the Indie film "ThunderSoul" and were further inspired by a music teacher and his students. These films showed us how they can testify and witness and made us want to share them with many others. Once again another outstanding Ghandi-King Conference!
Thanks, Erika and Jacob.

Among so much else among these ideas, I'm particularly interested in the "proposing and supporting bills in Congress" suggestion Erika provided from last year's conference.

We were recently in D.C. advocating for the International Violence Against Women Act. We held some events and had some very interesting one-on-one meetings with lawmakers. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by acclaimed peace and human rights advocate and Congolese death camp survivor Rose Mapendo. It was so inspiring to witness the effect Rose had on Congresspersons and Senators in these meetings. She very candidly related her harrowing experiences and then lay out her vision for a hopeful future--challenging them to rise to the task and join her in the struggle to address violence against women and girls around the world. Real, human connection happened in those rooms, I'll tell ya. Everyone was moved.

So, yes, hearing others' stories of oppression and liberation can open us (including Republican Congressmen!) to the discontent we feel in ourselves about the state of the world and the implicit role we play. In that face-to-face moment, it's tangible. But, how do we keep that inspiration going? Just something I struggle with now as we follow up on what these guys will really do about this bill and other social justice issues...

How do we help keep folks in tune with what they felt in those moments so that it inspires action for healing and justice? Maybe what I'm really asking is: how do we stay in tune ourselves? Maybe continue to listen...hear new stories...hmmm.

Thanks for reading. Hope our comments spark somethin'. :)

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