Crafting Gentleness

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"The Path of My Exodus"

A statement from the funeral of Ewen Derrick, a friend of my parents who lived in New Zealand. He had time to prepare this statement before his death. Ewen left the priesthood, but continued to work as a lifelong community activist. Although I had known him as a child, I met him again in 1990, but I was still too young to appreciate the man. I find this statement to be one of hope and perserverance and humanity, and Ewen's life of community work and social activism remains an inspiration for me:

"It takes a lifetime and longer to extricate one's self from the established institutions and to find new ways of establishing some less empty form of expression for the living faith. Metanoia (change of heart or direction of life) is not an act of the will. It is the unwillingness to continue. The unwillingness is not an act but an experience. One has no choice but to leave. ... This dissociation, however, is more easily formulated than achieved because no social space or field exists outside the powers that be and the existing institutions are there are the moment of one's metanoia. One does not know what is going to happen. One has no blue print for action. The trust is that this sub-zero situation is bound to create new ways of life. This is our Faith. Anon."

I've been reading Ewen's book Community Development and Social Change (Auckland District Council of Social Services, 1995), and would heartily recommend it. I'll post excerpts from it later on.

I would not personally say that 'no social space or field exists outside the powers that be'. For me, such a statement might lead us to invest too much value in the claims of those who consider themselves to be the powers that be (PTB). But that sense of dissonance, of being able to continue no longer in a situation that negates how you happen to be and aspire to be in the world, that I can identify with, and it seems to be the theme of the week on the blog!


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