“To live with integrity in an unjust society we must work for justice. To walk with integrity through a landscape strewn with beer cans, we must stop and pick them up. “ Starhawk.
“Systems don't change easily. Systems try to maintain themselves, and seek equilibrium. To change a system, you need to shake it up, disrupt the equilibrium. That often requires conflict.” Starhawk.
A couple of weeks ago my son came home and described what happened to one of the foreign exchange students. The student is a friend of his. My son described how his friend was in class and the teacher began blaming his country for the first and second World Wars. My son wished he was in that class to stand with his friend. Most of the kids in that class either laughed at what the teacher was saying or did nothing. His friend felt alone. During another class, he asked a girlfriend why she didn’t do anything when this happened. Her response was - she didn’t think the foreign exchange student was so sensitive. “He’s a guy right?”
I’m almost finished re-reading Starhawk’s Dreaming the Dark. I keep coming back to the second and third chapters about “power-over,” integrity, interconnectedness and ethics.
I find myself often rejecting the way things are. But, the bottom line is: I have choices and the choices I make effects the way things are. I can do nothing or I can raise my voice or be an agent to make change. Or as Starhawk says: pick up the beer cans.
I really realize I can’t call myself a CCWWW – even if I practice solitary – and not be an activist for social justice. It’s part of the belief system and tradition that I’ve signed onto.
During supper my family discussed what happened in school. I posed a question: “If you were in that class and a teacher was acting this way, what could you do?” Both boys came up with a laundry list of things they could have done: standing up to the teacher and talking about what our country did during WWII to Japanese citizens or how the abuse in Abu Ghraib was allowed to happen; or excusing themselves to go to the bathroom and get another adult.
I immediately drafted a letter to the school expressing my concern. And, shamefully it has sat as a draft in a word document. This has nagged at me: “What if no other parent said anything about the incident.”
Researchers who study the dynamics of bullying say that most bystanders are passive. They don’t do anything. Most of these passive on-lookers don’t like what is happening, but for whatever reason don’t speak up. This provides silent acceptance and the bullying or power-over behavior.