Maybe it was because I started my Monday morning in the dentist’s chair having my tooth drilled for a crown. Maybe it was learning of the death of a good man who had been a good family friend for the first half of my life, or the death of the father of our school’s pastor. Maybe it was the news from around the world; escalating violence in Gaza & Israel, Kabul, Congo, & Syria. Perhaps it was all of that & all of the many little things at school that built up into one huge stressful & extremely discouraging week. But there is hope.
I wanted to stage a peaceful demonstration in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, but not a single person at the school where I work responded to my e-mail. That wasn’t so surprising. People need to really feel passionate about something before they’ll take to the streets. Especially people “of privilege” who tend to live in gated communities, and who start to feel uncomfortable whenever I speak about our Catholic Social Justice teachings, and how this relates to marginalized communities. What left me feeling even more like an outsider and totally defeated was the fact that not a single soul signed one of the letters to Publix Managers that I had copied & left on the workroom table all week. But there is hope.
I did make two connections with others in my area, thanks to an e-mail reply from the CIW. Two total strangers who feel passionate about workers rights like I do. That’s something. That’s hope!
This week I learned that I need to be patient & I need to gently educate people; perhaps one person at a time. That’s hard for me, though because, when it comes to social justice, I want action & change NOW! Patience is a virtue, right? In the meantime, I hope and pray that the people in the fields can stay patient & hopeful, too. God only knows how virtuous they are!
I won’t stop trying to affect change despite my feelings of discouragement. With that in mind, I put out another e-mail about signing the letters to Publix Managers. This time about 8 teachers signed them! I e-mailed a thank-you! I also added 4 more signatures from some people at church. The day before Thanksgiving I drove around & delivered 11 letters to 11 Publix Managers as part of the CIW’s “Thanksgiving Week of Action.” I shook their hands, smiled and invited them to the table to sign on to the Fair Food Program with CIW. It took me about 5 hours. I should have been exhausted when I got home, but instead I felt empowered & energized! I felt like I had done something good & helpful.
I felt hopeful!