Monday, February 22, 2010

Taking the Glasses Off

Several years ago I translated for a member of the women’s sewing cooperative, Rosa Dávila, at a green business conference. Rosa was a powerful speaker, telling about her journey to the cooperative: learning to read at the age of 13 through the Sandinista Literacy Campaign, joining the Army to fight the Contras, leaving the Army to have a family and finding herself taking in washing to feed her three children before joining the co-op where she was in charge of imports and exports. During her talk, Rosa didn’t mince words: she very clearly told the several-hundred people gathered that their country – the United States of America – had financed and trained the Contra to blow up schools, health centers and infrastructure, and assassinate teachers and farmers. Afterwards a woman named Karen approached Rosa and told her with tears in her eyes: “I didn’t know. When you were speaking I just wanted to crawl under the table, I feel so ashamed. How could I not know?” This was not a woman living a sheltered life: she was a well-read, well-educated progressive businessperson. And yet, Karen had no idea that her tax dollars had supported the murder of health care workers in Nicaragua.

I don’t use this example to chastise Karen for not knowing, or place guilt on uninformed citizens, but rather I use this example to show us concretely two things:

  1. We are all shaped by dominant ideas in this world: on some level we tend to believe that what we are told is true. This is like wearing a pair of glasses: we see the world through the glasses we’re given, and after we look through them long enough, we no longer see the glasses. And those glasses don’t allow us to see anything that doesn’t fit with what we’ve been told. Karen had been told that her country was supporting “Freedom Fighters” who were struggling to free Nicaragua and the entire Western Hemisphere from the grip of a repressive regime.
  2. Human connections can change this: if someone reaches out, takes our glasses off our noses, shows us their human face and tells us their truth, then we can see them. We can hear what they have to say and come to understand that there might be another story, that all that we have been told might NOT be true. Rosa took the glasses off Karen’s face, and showed her another story: that the Sandinistas were working to educate and provide health care, and that the Contra had attacked civilians trying to help the poor of Nicaragua. By really seeing Rosa, Karen was able to put a “face” to the Sandinistas, and what she saw didn’t look like the face of a “repressive regime.” What she saw caused her to question what she had been told.

Our world is desperately in need of change: everywhere we look there are people suffering – dying of disease, living on the streets, victims of war, uneducated, unable to find work to feed their families. The world is so full of pain that we can’t bear to look at it; and so we look away. When we look away, we deny that the suffering exists and we deny the existence of those suffering. Our current society that denies our very nature, our instinct to connect to one another as human beings.

With so many problems, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and hard to know where to start. I believe that the key to changing the world is questioning what we have been told: our “glasses” show us that we are all individuals, that we can’t do anything to help one another. When we take those glasses off, we see that we are all connected, that we are all brothers and sisters in the human family, and that we can and can help one another. Believing that – not simply espousing that from the pulpit, but actually believing it – is the first step.

That day many years ago, Karen looked Rosa Dávila in the eye, saw her pain and suffering, and told her, “I’m so sorry.” Karen was taking the first steps to change our world: she saw Rosa as her sister, saw what her country had done to Rosa’s country, and questioned what she had been told.

Over the next several weeks I will be devoting this blog to taking off our glasses, seeing the other story of the world’s problems, and looking at how we can take the next steps to move forward as one community of humankind. – Becca

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring Tour in U.S.

9 March - 5 May Spring 2010 Speaking Tour (in process): hope to see you along the way!:

If you are all interested in hosting Sarah anywhere along this crazy route, or knowing how to find her in any spot, please contact her at She is traveling with a 20-25 minute power point presentation and beautiful Nicaraguan crafts, and as you can see from the rough outline below, she’s up for speaking anywhere! If you send email and do not get a reply, please keep trying!

South Carolina

March 9 – 8PM Cultural Event - Wesley Foundation, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, SC

March 10 – dinner & evening at St John’s UMC, Rock Hill, SC

North Carolina & East Tennessee

March 11 – 10:30 AM - Charlotte, NC - Christ Episcopal, ECW hosting

7PM - St Andrew’s UMC, Charlotte, NC

March 13 – 4:30PM - Davidson College Presbyterian Church chapel, Davidson, NC

March 14 – Sunday AM – Western Blvd Presbyterian, Raleigh, NC

Sunday PM - Western Blvd Presbyterian, Raleigh, NC

March 16 - 11:00-12:15 Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC

12:30-1:45PM - ECU, Greenville, NC

2:00-3:15PM - ECU, Greenville, NC

March 18 – mid-day Crabtree Rotary Club - Raleigh, NC
March 19 - 1-3PM -Woods Charter School (near Chapel Hill, NC)

March 21 – Sunday AM – 11:00 AM St Giles Presbyterian, Raleigh, NC, 12 noon lunch & presentation with crafts

March 22- 5:15PM Finley home -Lewisville, NC

March 23 - 2:30-3:45PM - Davidson College environmental class, Davidson, NC

March 24 - 5:45PM crafts - covered dish dinner - presentation, Trinity Presbyterian, Winston Salem, NC

March 25 - AM Creative Learning Center preschool, Winston Salem, NC

2:30-4:30PM Lower Auditorium, Wingate Hall, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC

March 26 - 10AM Anthropology class, Forsyth Technical Community College, Winston Salem, NC

Evening - Laws/Trowell home, Winston-Salem, NC

March 28 – 9AM-2PM Unity Center, Fletcher, NC

March 29 - 5-7PM - Furman University CLP, Greenville, SC

Overnight Vista House

March 30 - 10-11:15AM Furman Univ class, Greenville, SC

March 31 - 12:30-3PM - Odyssey Community School, Asheville, NC

April 3 – Marshall NC

April 4 – Easter Sunday AM – 8:00AM - 12:00PM Jubilee! Asheville, NC

April 6- 6PM - St David’s Episcopal, Cullowhee, NC

April 7 - Celo/Burnsville/Spruce Pine area of NC

April 8 - 7:30PM - Mary Jane's Cafe, Burnsville, NC

Big northern loop… NC to VA to PA to NY to CT/RI/MA/NH/ME and back to SC.

April 9 - 6:30PM home of Rebecca Phares / Tina Hodges, Washington, DC

April 10 - AM Mission Central, Mechanicsburg PA

April 11 – 11:00AM - 1:30PM - Unitarian Society of Germantown, Philadelphia PA

evening – 6:00 PM - Christ United Methodist Church, Hummelstown, PA

April 12 - 9:30AM - WKOK radio interview, Lewisburg, PA

11:00AM - 1:00PM - craft sales, Langone Center, Bucknell Univ, Lewisburg PA

7:00PM - presentation, Gallery Theater, Langone Center, Bucknell Univ

April 13 - 11:00AM - 1:00PM - craft sales, Langone Center, Bucknell Univ

2:30 PM - Third World Development class, Bucknell Univ

6:30 PM - Bucknell Brigadistas party, Lewisburg, PA

April 14 - 1-2PM - Once Again Nut Butter, Nunda NY

April 15 - focus on women's issues -

1:00 - 3:00 PM - the Latino Roundtable of Duchess Co., Brookhaven, 1 Brookside Ave, Poughkeepsie, NY

7:00PM - (public welcome) Lecture Center 109, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, NY

April 16 - 8AM - 12PM Oakwood School, Poughkeepsie, NY

Luncheon - No Sweat group, Oakwood School, Poughkeepsie, NY

April 16 - 6PM dinner (register in advance) Poughkeepsie Farm Project

7:00PM public presentation -Café Bocca, Mt. Carmel Sq, Poughkeepsie, NY

April 18 – Sunday – 10:30 AM -First Congregation Church, Natick, MA, followed by lunch and presentation / crafts

April 20 - 12:00 - 1:00 PM - Northeastern University

Boston College - crafts in McElroy mid-day & evening presentation - Cushing, Boston College - Boston, MA

April 21 - 3:00 PM - Fulton Honors Library, Boston College - Honors Program / Winston Ctr for Leadership & Ethics

April 22 - 11:00AM - 2:00PM Student Center crafts, Univ. Southern Maine, Portland, ME

5:00PM - 7:00PM presentation, Student Center, Univ. Southern Maine, Portland, ME

April 23 - 11:30AM - 2:15PM - crafts at Clark Insurance, Portland ME

12-1PM - Univ. of New England, Biddeford ME

5:00PM - 7:00PM - home of Larry & Kay Waxler, Portland, ME

April 24 - 4:00 PM St Patrick's, Portland, ME

April 25 – 9:00 AM – St Pius - Portland, ME

6:30 PM - Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, MA

April 27 - 7:45-11:45AM - Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, South Hampton, MA

evening Yale Univ - New Haven, CT

April 28 - 7:30PM - Christ Church, Summit, NJ

April 29 – available DE or eastern VA

April 30 – overnight Winston-Salem, NC

May 1 – overnight Pendleton, SC

May 2 – Sunday AM & afternoon– NACCP Anderson SC

May 3- AM UU World of Children - Greenville SC

7:00 PM - Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, Black Mountain, NC

May 4 - evening - Shandon Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC

May 5 – evening at St John’s, Fort Mill, SC