Someone asked me the other day “What’s the main emotion you’re feeling through the challenge?”… and all I could come up with was rage. It’s not a fuming from the ears kind of rage, but rather a more subdued but ever-present rage. A pit of the stomach rage against systemic oppression.. yeah, that’s probably it.
It enrages me that we have a system of social “support” that buries people in the never ending stresses of scarcity. It enrages me that it’s not a societal norm to care for one another (and I know I fall into this apathy often as well). It enrages me that as a society, we value wealth and economic growth over health and social well being. The concept of trickle down economics is bullshit, and I’m raging over our collective inability to face this reality.
This week has also stirred up a lot of curiosity and bewilderment. How do we move people to care about supporting the most marginalized in our society? How are we so disconnected from human suffering? How can we move the needle through conversations and dialogue? How do we best affect the systems change that’s needed?
My experience through this week has been steeped in great privilege. All around me I have security – housing, employment, social supports, savings. Throughout the week I had caring people in my community cheering me on, giving me kudos and offering to help. I am incredibly grateful for everyone’s interest, participation and support. A co-worker’s email struck me as particularly apt – “I was going to say what an amazing thing for your to do and then I thought about the many people for whom this is a reality every day”. I had reservations about participating in the challenge as a very privileged person. I still worry about how to make my participation not about me, but to focus it on the change that’s needed. My co-workers response gave me some hope that the Welfare Food Challenge does bring the intended awareness to a broad audience through personal relationships and conversations.
As another friend said “There is always guilt and outrage when you hear the numbers, but to have it happen to one you care about takes it to another level.”
I think this is the work. Well, some of the work. I believe that the work of progressive social change needs to happen through many actions, with different skills sets and approaches. The piece I’m committed to is the work of better connecting with each other, so we can see our shared humanity and the responsibility we have to care for one another.