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:
- 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
Nicaraguaand the entire Western Hemispherefrom the grip of a repressive regime.
- 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
. By really seeing Nicaragua 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
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