As one of the three women who work together to get the synchroblog going each month, it’s really pitiful that here I am … bringing up the rear in November. But something was stopping me from writing this month. Oh, I have plenty to say on the topic (Voices of the Marginalized) and there were/are many directions I felt I could take. Yet every time I wanted to write, I couldn’t. There was a time when I would have fretted and fussed. Sat down and made something up. But if I’ve learned anything over the last five or six years, I’ve learned how to wait. How to be patient. How to let things percolate and bubble to the surface. And last night as I was drifting off to sleep, I finally knew what to write about. So here I am this morning … a couple days late, and a couple dollars short. I hope you find it worthy.
Marginalization results in an individual’s exclusion from meaningful participation in society and it’s source is many. Economic circumstances, illness, disability, geographical location, gender, sexuality, race, religion are all dominant sources of individuals being marginalized. Sometimes it’s easy to see holidays or certain systems from a position of power or privilege. * As God’s people, what does it mean to see the world through the eyes of the marginalized?
- What is it like to be one of the marginalized?
- How can we be part of bridging some of these gaps?
Here in the LightHouse we’ve been discussing some particularly knotty extended family issues over the last week or so. This has been an ongoing conversation that has ebbed and flowed around work schedules, hockey schedules, and our emotional barometers. We have worked it around to a place where we realized we are not free to say, “No, this or that will not work for us.” within this relationship. Well, I suppose we are free to say that, but the emotional damage to the relationship will be very high. In order to maintain the relationship, we are required to affirm the other party’s desires, no matter what else is going on with us.
It struck me as I was drifting off to sleep last night, that this is the quintessential difference between those who are in and those who are marginalized. Those who are in have power, are equals and may say yes or no to whatever they please. They have the freedom to choose their lives and their horizons. Those who have been pushed to the edges do not have this freedom, they are required to say yes in order to maintain their relationship with those in power around them. Their choices/our choices are then limited by what they are given to say yes to. A relationship between equals will allow negotiation; it will allow for a yes OR a no. A relationship between a powerful and a powerless will only allow for a yes and negotiation will be minimal at best.
What this means is that those who are marginalized in our country are not free. They are bound by invisible bonds. The ties are tightly woven and they are kept in place (in some cases over generations) just as surely as those of a plantation owner in the Antebellum South. We tell ourselves that now we no longer capitalize on human suffering, but is that really true? Perhaps if we took a different perspective on the relationship of power and wealth vs. poverty, we might begin to see how much of our power grid really does still capitalize on human suffering; on some humans having less than others and on a zero-sum paradigm of the world.
And as I was thinking all of this through, I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul again, in the letter to the church at Galatia:
All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. (Gal. 3:26-28)
That is the gospel of freedom. That we would all be free to make our yes be yes and our no be no. To be equal with one another. That in the end, our relationships with one another will not be driven by who is powerful and who is powerless, but by love. And our mission during our brief stint here is bring the Kingdom to the dusty corners that we find. Help those in our path see new horizons and find ways to speak; to say no when they need to and yes only when they want to. To have healthy relationships based on love, rather than warped relationships based on fear or power.
As I wrote above, this is a synchroblog post, and no synchroblog would be complete without a list of juicy links for you to read at the end. Please take some time to read what others have written on this important subject. Thanks!