I am not an island, You are not a "Them"

I thought this blog would be about hope, not anger. But anger is a very real part of my journey toward hope.

I used to be really angry about injustice in the world. Don’t get me wrong, it still breaks my heart, still brings tears to my eyes, but it no longer hardens my heart.

I used to be enraged on behalf of others. Particularly the plight of the rural poor.

I used to use this anger as an ideology. As my new religion.

I used this anger as an excuse not to move. To stay stuck. To lash out.

I used it as an excuse to dehumanize the poor. To reduce them to a “them” I could be enraged on behalf of. Not people that I knew and loved. Not people that deserved my hope and my efforts as much as my anger and indignation.

A while back I wrote a poem about this act of dehumanization I masked as romanticized, righteous indignation. And here it is:

I am not an island
You are not a “them”
I remember the romance of the pain
Weathered, leather face
Acidic fumes
I forget you
I talk anger
I feel smug
You are a story I heard
A feeling I felt
Not a person I know
I use you to feel pain
In pain I am Justified
I use you to reject Him
But you praise Him with your chapped lips
Chapped, I said it,
Romanticizing again
I put it on you
It’s never me
I’m the enlightened one
Finally free
Of the guilt on my hands
Of the burden of me
But am I angry for you?
Or angry for me?
In the fury of my rage
You become a “them”
I become a lie
I am not a martyr
Remind me yet again
I am not an island
You are not a them

Pictured to the left: Me with a woman, Grey, that I stayed with in Nicaragua. She shared not only her house and food–mostly pineapples–with me, but also her thoughts, her hopes, and her dreams. She was one of the women I wrote this poem for a year after I came back to the States.

Have any of you experienced a time when you used anger on behalf of someone or a group of someones as an excuse to stay stuck?


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