Friday, October 3, 2008


Recently Faith and I co-facilitated a workshop called Teachers of Peace in Ohio. In Ohio, "anti-bullying" is a big deal in the schools, and is increasingly becoming something the schools are being mandated to deal with. Like so many well-meaning movements, however, when something starts with "anti-" and then names the problem, people's attention is often so focused on the problem that the big picture and even the solutions are missed.

For me, it is the bystander phenomena that ultimately matters in our world. Martin Luther King suggested that "the world begins to end when we are silent on the things that matter". But it is simply not possible to become an activist on all things that matter in our all-or-nothing world. Since the Exxon Valdez spill, I have avoided Exxon at all costs (except for those rare occassions that I have been stranded). I never shop at Wal-Mart. I have not bought a ticket to a major league baseball game since the 1994 strike. But the fact is, I'm the only one who feels good about this. The target for change doesn't even notice. And, when it comes to Wal-Mart and Exxon, all I'm doing is standing by while Exxon rapes the environment and Wal-Mart bullies its employees. I wonder if there is something - not more, but different - that I can do.

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