Hope through Honest Discussion: A Follow up to Why I feel like an Alien

by Anna Blanch on November 14, 2008

This morning I marched. Not the clipped cadence of a march in formation or a raucous demonstration with signs and loud chants and cries, but a free flowing march in silence, prayer, and then progressively friendly smiles and chatter.

I am not a big marcher – I have always avoided protests and I am not really into making signs or wearing protest t-shirts. I have a worn a uniform in service of my country and I have friends serving my country, as I write, in situations that are less than politically popular. I am not by nature a person who challenges the establishment partly because it is not in my nature to be anarchic. This is not to say that I don’t make my opinion heard, and anyone who knows me knows that I am forthright and expressive about those things that are important to me. I certainly don’t blithely follow the status quo just because it is the status quo. But I do tend to work from within the system, as it were, rather than from outside. This does not mean that I don’t think the very nature of our society and systems are not broken and in dire need of some fixing.

I’ve been thinking lately that this attitude of mine is in fact a luxury, a privilege that I have been afforded. Not so much because of any skills or gifts I may have but in some sense because of an accident of birth. I was born and grew up in what is, by international standards, an exceedingly egalitarian society and I proud to be part of a family who is lovingly referred to by my grandmother as her “little united nations”; moreover, I have had the privilege, whether spurred on by mindset and attitude, to have received a great education and to have travelled extensively around the world.

Today I saw the seeds on an ongoing dialogue being watered a little. Many of you read my post “Why I feel a little like an alien” and I received many emails commenting and questioning me about my post. Today at the same campus I took part in a March for Diversity. The point of the march was to educate students about the incidents of the previous week and to make a statement about the desire for real unity on the campus. It was appropriately sober with an encouragement that by getting to know one another we can begin to understand each other and we can each individually stand up to racism and bigotry as we see it perpetrated, even if that means correcting our friends and family, and being committed to expressing the love that God has for each of us in the way that we love those around us. As an Australian, it has always felt a little different for me being here – I am outsider here; I talk differently and I don’t have the same cultural touchstones or childhood memories: I have my own cultural identity – but I take great solace and hope each and everytime I see the beginning and journey of healing the many great hurts that have been perpetrated. A few days ago I posted about Rememberance day and the exhortation to remember those who gave up their lives in the pursuit and defence of freedom. In this case I think we all need to be encouraged to recognise that being hateful is a heart issue – however, it is expressed – and that forgiving and working on understanding one another does not require you to forget. But it does mean that as individuals – me and you – need to be gentle with one another, recognising that diversity does not mean we give up our self-identity and it doesn’t mean we have to think the same things. But when you see each and ever other person as a child of God then you can work on the level of opinions and when people feel safe that their opinions are not going to be equated with their identity we all learn and we all grow.

I am hoping to continue these posts – I am hoping explore some of these issues in the context of Hannah More and some of the other writers that I research to keep the focus on what this blog is about – the interdisciplinary study of literature and thelogy in the context of the bible, popular culture, and faith.

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