Imagine someone putting their hand on your shoulder, looking you in the eye, and saying in a firm, assuring voice, “It’s gonna be ok. It’s gonna be ok.”
Do you feel better?
I went on a bit of a rant yesterday. Not a big one, but a rant nonetheless. What I was expressing was a level of frustration. I wasn’t smart enough to know that was what I was doing at the time, but after some group process and reflection, I have been enlightened (AHHHHH) and now know the truth.
Tonight during our group process and reflection I asked people to share their frustrations. One person from the medical team shared her frustration that people from the team are eating well and there are children and adults all around in the batey who complain they are hungry and we have nothing to offer them. What is so frustrating is that we have the food and we could bring sandwiches if we wanted to. Why can’t we do more?
Someone from the construction team shared the frustration that sometimes it feels like we are doing very menial work while the people on the medical team are doing amazing things with individuals; they are reaching people and construction folks are moving buckets of sand. Similar to my rant yesterday, that person is frustrated.
These frustrations were voiced during our reflection time and immediately people started to offer solutions. “All we need to do is get some bread, some peanut butter, and we can make the sandwiches.” Or, “You just need to remember that you are a part of a bigger project, of something big.”
“It’s gonna be ok. It’s gonna be ok.”
Do you feel better?
Actually, no. Take your platitudes, put them back in your I’m-gonna-fix-it pocket. Don’t try to make things better; don’t cover up our frustrations or our anger. Let us just be mad. Let us just be upset and make a mess.
Think of it this way. If you walk into a room and see me sitting among a pile of broken eggs, bags of flour everywhere, cans dented, etc., etc., there are a couple of things you can do. You could say, “How long until breakfast?” You could say, “You need to clean this up!” Or… you could get into the mess and make it with me, smash more eggs with me, and be angry with me. Then, when everything is done and when we are both sitting on the floor covered with flour and eggs and everything else, we can start to make pancakes. Mmmm, pancakes.
Your advice is fine, nice, and sometimes helpful, but let us wallow in our mess. Let us be frustrated. Then we can all can hold hands and sing “We shall overcome” together knowing that our work is not in vain and that we are making great strides. Yes, someday all workers at hospitals and schools and other places will know that each block they lift is a block of oppression being lifted from the dregs of society. Yes, someday we will have so many peanut butter sandwiches so each child will only have one desire… for jelly.
Until then, lets look to the immortal image of a younger HenryRollins (from his Black Flag days), and get angry, stay angry, and find God in that mess.