Solidarity, Not Charity
At least, I'd like to believe that it isn't about us and them. But when I try to share a bit of the story, people don't always react the way I hope or want or expect. There are differences. And who am I to judge those reactions? I'm still working to keep my eyes open most of the time.
I know that in time I'll find a way to make a contribution to the struggle for social justice. It might be listening to people's stories in a way that hopefully makes them feel heard. Or it might be something else. I don't know yet. Right now I'm still adjusting to the jarring sense of being home and feeling like part of me should be back there, continuing to listen. That listening didn't feel like charity.
I think that it is always a challenge to keep peoples' awareness focused on issues like poverty and inequality and social justice, once a catastrophic event like Katrina is pushed off the front pages. It is all too easy to look away from the entrenched problems that contributed to the situation, whether it is because you are unwilling to see them, or because they are so big that it is hard to imagine your own actions making an appreciable difference.
It is one thing to look at a situation from the comfort of one's living room and think "something should be done" and another thing altogether to actually get up and do something. I think it is exceptional and admirable, not only that you have done something, but that you are also committed to finding a way to continue to do something in the cause of social justice. It is so much more that most people do, myself included.