Thursday, November 6, 2008

I had witnessed change

I spent the first fourteen years of my life in a dark age; some have called ironically a golden age. As I grew up, the people around me became overshadowed by cold, hunger and fear.

And I had witnessed change. Young people, a few years older than I, chose to die rather than live in cold, hunger and fear. The political environment and the crowd’s mentality had not changed in a year, nor did it change in five years. Even today, almost twenty years later, some of the people living there are still overshadowed by fear and darkness and cold. However, today, in Romania, there is not a five-year-old child that is going to risk her life for a bottle of cooking oil, because somebody decided exactly how much cooking oil is needed for the people. No fourteen year old will fear that he’ll be caught in the street and bit up just because he’s a boy that chose to let his hair long. No woman will have to be humiliated each month in a cold doctor’s office, where some skewed nurse will have to check her entrails to make sure she’s not pregnant and looking to abort the unborn child.

I spent many years looking for a church where I could celebrate the God I loved, the God of mercy and forgiveness. A church where all are invited and only measured for their faith. But most churches I attended seemed to confine faith with their small understanding of right and wrong. And few years ago I had discovered with dismay a church that celebrated bigotry and preached hate.

But I had witnessed change. In this church I had only attended since June, last Sunday the Presiding Bishop said that we had been all claimed as saints (1). The people we acknowledge as saintly, as well as the ones that we do not like. The people that reason like us as well as the ones whose logic we cannot follow. It is not for us to judge the ones that do not agree with our points of view, for us is to realize our own sainthood. (2)

I spent five years in the United States, and during this time I had lost almost all faith in the American people. I strongly believed that no one would re-elect a president that pushed this country to an absurd war. But they did it, and he was re-elected not because he was competent but because he re-assured them they were right in their prejudices about race, and same –sex marriages and their wives right to choose. And I had seen acts of racism (3). And I heard a woman mocking the very same ideals that women had fought for so many years, a woman some called a feminist.

And I witnessed change. I had seen Americans overcoming their racial bias (4) and electing the man they considered right for the job. And I had seen a young generation remembering that it has a voice and that “yes, we can” (5) change our minds, overcome prejudice and bring hope back. That each small voice counts (6).

And yesterday, when I went to work I made my very nice co-worker G. cry. For she had to listen for about two years now, all my bickering and all my doubts and my anger. But yesterday I told her how proud I was to have witnessed change.

(1) all that had been baptized, since it is hard to capture sainthood in non-Christian terms.
(2) For the whole sermon here. And the issue addressed.
(3) I went through the whole grief circle when I was called the c *** word. Well, I guess I had been called many things before but a racial slur? I had to move to the US though, to find out that I am South Asian. When living in Europe I was under the impression that all that comes out of Romania is, in the worse case scenario, Romani (gypsy).
(4) I had noticed some new Obama/Biden placards in my neighbourhood after the elections. (After all you did not want the Jones to think that you actually might like black people.) The real victory was realized in counties such as Allegheny County, where the number of African American children in a school is still a measure of the school's quality, and states such as North Carolina.
(5) And the speech.
From now on, the rest is politics.
White people from Allegheny County will not suddenly embrace each potential black neighbour, my only African American co-worker did not get promoted and Barack Obama has yet to prove that he is the skilled, smart and competitive President that they voted.
(6) the small voices


Anonymous said...

Big change comes from small change. Life is an amazing adventure.

Annamari said...

it is. but all those were big changes if I think

susan said...

What an amazing personal story. I'm happy that you gave G tears of joy. Thanks for responding.

Annamari said...

thank you for the opportunity.
I will have some great stories to tell my grandkids for sure...