Midweek musing: who do we think we are?
I have always been susceptible to viruses, but it feels as though I have hardly been without the heaviness of viral symptoms for months, as I emerge bruised and battered from a year of prolonged stress.
I have written much of this anxiety over money, knowing I do not have enough for the season of storytelling reflection and practice in Scotland, but also knowing it is right for me to be here, so staying never-the-less.
What I am pondering this week, however, is that if this stress and anxiety has produced such a weariness and diminishing of health for me – a stress and anxiety born of privilege and freedom, me being bound only to my own commitment to a calling – how much more is the stress and anxiety of those being held in off-shore detention at the behest of my country's government diminishing the wellbeing of our fellow humans?
Stress born of privilege? Well, yes. I experience the privilege of time, resources and love that enable me to identify my vocation and live into it with affirmation and welcome. I have the freedom to live into my vocation for my own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of my community. The stress came through taking a risk in pursuit of my calling, venturing out on an unclear path not knowing how I would find the resources I needed for this particular journey.
Stress for those in detention? Oh, well, now, starting in countries of persecution, violence, and the threat of death, venturing forth risking death at sea in the hope of life and safety in Australia, met by defence forces, thrown behind barbed wire, subjected to interminable uncertainty about their future and unendurable oppression in their present. Stress? I think these experiences are more aptly described as trauma.
In my season of stress and anxiety, I was able to reach out to my community in Australia (mostly) – for in their wellbeing, they sought to nurture my wellbeing – and I always (if sometimes at the last minute) had enough. Just enough money to pay the bills; more than enough affirmation, encouragement and love to resist the temptation to give up.
In profound vulnerability, these humans are reaching out to our community, Australia, seeking for our wellbeing to overflow and nurture theirs. We seem to think we do not have enough, though we have more than enough money to pay for their detention – more costly, apparently, than settling them in the community. And we certainly have more than enough fear – of difference, of having our security eroded by sharing it with others. How immature. How inhuman. How very, very disappointing.
I had a choice throughout my season of stress – I always had the choice to go home. My family and friends would have seen me right to get home, if I could not endure the anxiety any longer. I would have been disappointed, but I would have been home, safe, loved, and able to find alternative ways to live out my vocation.
These vulnerable humans also have a choice – to remain in places of fear and death and destruction, or to flee, to hope, to live. Who do we think we are to meet such hope and courage and life with fear and judgement and rejection?
We, who are privileged enough to have the time to reflect on our identity, words and actions.
Who do we think we are?