Not all who inspire are inspired.
It's 6:26am and I'm on the dirty carpet of the Detroit Greyhound station, halfway through a 12-hour trek to Chicago to attend the G8. To attend the Gender Justice Summit, the Peoples' Summit, the protests, and all the other meaningful citizens events that the governments of the most powerful 8 nations of the world largely ignore as they make their decisions on our behalf about how to rule the world.
I'm here because it's my last function of my 3-year tenure on the Oxfam Canada board. I'm here because it's a great chance to have a few weeks to myself, to visit my brother, to get some solid consulting work done, to let my boys have time with their Chicago grandparents and uncles, and to unwind after a school year of high energy parenting. And oh ya, I'm here as a deliberate act of world citizenship.
The fact that I'm spending 92 hours in transit (plane, train, automobile, bus, ferry) and 2 weeks away from the farm to be here is not indicative of any heroic efforts or passionate commitment. It all happened by accident, by the fact that Oxfam scheduled this meeting at this time. I wasn't an on-fire protester who determined to get here to save the world or protest its demise.
But in a recent Quaker discussion group about how we try to live our lives in accordance with testimonies around Peace and Equality, a wise Friend asked me about my G8 involvement. His assumption that I was acting out of a deep calling or "Leading" was a wake-up call that this should be more than a casual adventure. It is a gift-wrapped chance to put my faith into action.
From that simple, pivotal moment, I've become excited about the G8. I'm no longer here to catch up on my writing and sleep and fraternal bonds; I'm here to be a presence. I'm representing my Quaker Friends, my community of friends who believe as I do that the world leaders can and must do better. I'm here for social justice, for environmental justice, for gender justice, for a better world for our children. I'm here because being here makes a difference.
I don't yet know what that will look like, beyond participation in the amazing discussion fora that Oxfam and other groups are staging. Is this finally my time to go to jail for justice? To write that powerful media piece that changes some minds? To march in some historic ground-shifting protest that captures the world's attention? Or maybe it's just to be here and learn, to share my little perspective and energy.
It's exciting to be this open, to have 10 full days devoted to nothing but being present and ready to respond, contribute and learn. This is just one of many gatherings in a time of many gatherings, and I don't fool myself that my little piece will make a big difference in this one little act of the grand play. But my full, intentional plunging into this river is a baptism of sorts, a new depth of self-awareness and involvement.
So thank you, wise Friend, for the gentle nudge you probably didn't know you were giving. Or probably you did. I have a lot to learn, and a big supportive space to learn it in.
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