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One year: for better or worse

September 10, 2008

So, as September 9th has rolled around, I have now been in the Philippines for the entire year.  The sun returns where it was when I first stepped off the plane and into a muggy Manila morning, when I sat on my luggage outside the airport and wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.  There seemed to be no end in sight then, home was 10,000 miles and 16 months away and now here it is, so close by, less than 100 days and still so much left for me here on an island I didn’t know existed this time last year.  

This causes me to reflect on who we are from year to year- if such changes are possible, just how unstable are our characters?  When I took time to grieve for the death of an American friend earlier this week, I did not fully recognize the eyes that grew red and puffy.  My sadness for injustice now lacks specificity which I once felt made me who I am.  The emptiness that harbored within filled itself with moments in the forest and with feelings of brotherhood.  My personal struggle that so defined my angst and sadness is now, a year later, a drop in the bucket of a movement of people.  And they’ve taught me that to fight for serious causes an activist cannot take himself too seriously.  To be a true crusader, one can never use a word like crusade.

On Monday my heart ached to not be home near my father, for this friend (Mark McCusker, some of you may have known him) was much more a friend to him, a younger brother, persistent spirit, though really none of these formal words suit him at all.  I hope in the next year to grow more like him- to not be someone who requires great recognition or dramatic sermons, but rather just a nod.  Or nothing at all.  I think one of the hardest lessons to learn is to only live for recognition from the true On High, and not from the mini-gods we create in societal hierarchy or institutional governance.  (Here I digress from mentioning anything about American politics, though I wonder when we, American Christians, will put serious pressure on our American politicians to treat all of God’s people with a little bit of dignity.)

And in the past year, I have learned that there is no one to really change anyone.  I can write and tell folks about what’s happening here, but if they don’t want to petition their politicians for different foreign policy or change their consumer habits to not benefit abusive big business, there’s nothing I can do.  If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I’m just me and that even that changes daily.

That’s enough.  Not every moment is profound and those that are only reveal their meaning further down the road.  But every moment is something and every chance to listen to someone society has deemed “unworthy” is a moment to be in solidarity.  And every moment in solidarity is a chance to hear from God.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jenami permalink
    October 9, 2008 7:59 pm

    I have to disagree with one aspect for this post:

    It is vital that you NOT give up on change. Things have pretty much gone to hell in a handbasket politically, here, but I truly believe that it’s important that you continue to push people here to recognize that there is much to be gained by supporting the dignity of human life all over the globe.

    The process here is slow, to be sure. But I see commercial sites supporting causes like yours increase in number consistently. Where there were no voices, now there are few. I believe that you can make a chorus of them, a strong one, but you must not give up.


    (Forgive the terrible music analogy.) 🙂

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