To what extent might unresolved trauma be impacting our settler Mennonite capacity to feel empathy with other traumatized groups? If we, as a community, can recognize this impact and guard against the egoism of victimization, wouldn’t it stand to reason that our hearts would be more open to the pain being carried by our indigenous neighbours and our hands more ready to work at “restorative solidarity”?
We recommend a dark brew to accompany two challenging and inspirational readings coming from two Canadian women doing unique work with truth and reconciliation. First, Elaine Enns, working within the North American Mennonite tradition, prods white settlers towards a “restorative solidarity” with our indigenous neighbors. Writing in Canadian Mennonite Magazine, she zeroes in on empathy in an article entitled “Facing History With Courage:”
Solidarity most often arises from genuine empathy. Empathy, according to Webster, is the ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and understand his/her feelings, desires, ideas and actions. It’s not sympathy—feeling sorry for—which usually leads to paternalism. To come alongside others in their pain requires us to do our own work: To discover how our story is connected to theirs, such that our mutual healing and wholeness is, in fact, intertwined.
Enns offers three prospects and three problems that radical disciples bring to the arduous task of recognizing past and continuing injustices, and seeking to make things right. Read her piece “Facing History With Courage” in its entirety here.
In our second pre-Holy Week reading recommendation, Jennifer Henry from KAIROS Canada beckons us into the wilderness to “get real.”
This Lent, I am going to continue the process of unsettling the settler that is still within me. It is time to get real: to ask myself again what colonial ideas and practices are still part of my fabric of being. And I am going to work to re-place myself in the land of my chosen watershed, to work harder to reconcile to the earth in right relations with Indigenous peoples. It is time to get real: what ways am slipping back to comfort and convenience away from ecological integrity, what ways am I ignoring racism, cause I’m just too tired to make a fuss? In this wilderness time, I am going to strive to renew my identity as an ally, I am going to push my own church to greater boldness—to stand up in Indigenous solidarity, even when the empire pushes back and calls us names.
Read Jen Hen’s “On the Edge of the Wilderness” Ash Wednesday sermon here.