VOF Week 4: (Unlearning & Relearning)
I was listening to the radio the other day, when between songs one of the female DJ’s announced that Peter Gabriel had joined the campaign to stop violence against women. Of course a laudable gesture using celebrity status to bring light to an issue that has been swept under the rug for years. I found out later, Gabriel planned to deliver a petition of signatures to the Mexican government to persuade them to take accountability for the numerous disappearances of women on the U.S./Mexico border. The DJ proceeded to say that there are other more pressing issues we need to resolve and Gabriel needs to give it a rest. After my initial outrage, I thought about it this way, does this DJ have any idea of how much this issue affects her personally? Does she realize that violence against women isn’t something out there, that these violations can happen inside the home, on the street, at a friend’s house, or while riding the bus to work?
That is what we do though, whether consciously or subconsciously, we distance ourselves from the harm, from really knowing the truth and accepting the reality of the world we live in. Sometimes it is difficult for us to see how we are all connected to this world and one another, and how my action can affect someone half way across the world, or how a country’s policy can affect women globally.
At other times we just feel helpless.
A friend and I were talking about Darfur, the atrocities and tragedies that have happened there and that continue to occur. We talked about how we can help from here in the U.S. What can we do? If we donate money, will it go to those who need it? If we lend our hands, do we put ourselves at risk? What do we do then?
Our conversation reminded me of a scene from the movie Hotel Rwanda , when Don Cheadle’s character, Paul, tries to persuade a U.S. journalist to stay and cover the civil war between the Hutus and Tutsis. He says, if only people around the world saw what was happening, then they would do something about it. The journalist replies by saying something to the affect of, I think people will see this and think, how horrible, and continue on with their lives.
How disgusting that we live in a world where day in and day out we know of the unimaginable happening and the hardships that women, children, and men face to meet basic needs, yet we do nothing about it. I think for those of us here on World Pulse , we share a heightened consciousness, but for some of us, we don’t know what we can do, as outsiders, who want to remain respectful of our brothers and sisters around the world, but feel disempowered when we see serious violations taking place.
As a correspondent I want to unlearn the learned helplessness that comes from the idea that if we are not there, being directly affected, then we cannot do anything about it. I want to learn what I, what we, can do anywhere in the world to create social change no matter where we call home. I want to learn not only from the histories, but from the voices of women themselves. I want to start making more apparent connections from the local to the global, and back, not only for myself, but also with others. It starts here. We have a thriving network here on World Pulse , made up of amazing and dynamic women. The best part of it is that we are all already a part of this collective.
A small piece of the World Pulse story can be told in my personal story from meeting Jensine for the first time in San Diego 4 years ago among a group of 20 when the magazine was about to launch, to meeting her again in South Africa in November among a group of over 2,000 with a flourishing magazine and website! Worldpulse has traveled from one end of the earth to the other, listening to and connecting diverse women, now who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?