I don’t know about you but Christmas and New Year always cause me to look back at the year gone by and reflect on what’s happened. 2020 has been a challenging and unexpected year for many. If you also enjoy looking back on the year gone by, this visual 2020 timeline is really helpful.
Yet, despite the challenges, my year has also had many high points – it’s the year I joined the Praxis team as Praxis Labs and Community Manager and I’ve loved every minute! A big highlight was the racial injustice book club we held over the summer where we read Ben Lindsay’s We Need to Talk About Race. During this time I learnt the importance of being anti-racist, not just ‘not racist’, but taking action against racism and systemic opression marginalised groups face. It helped me to see my own personal biases and think more deeply about my own privilege and consider whether my church is truly reflecting the picture we see in Revelation 7:9, where every nation, tribe, people and language are standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
In October we ran another round of Praxis Labs and I really enjoyed facilitating a small group and hearing all the incredible activists share their wisdom. My personal highlight was a session on hope with Thobes. Thobes spoke about hope as knowing for certain what the future is, that God’s Kingdom will be a reality, even when it’s difficult to see it. I spent some time thinking more about this on my morning walks. There are cherry and apple trees behind my house and they look really dead and bare in the depths of winter, it’s hard to believe they’ll ever have fruit again. Yet, I know that they will, even though it seems so far from the reality at the moment. So for me, walking in hope is knowing that God’s Kingdom will come and all the awful things we see in this world – death, disease, racism, poverty, climate change – will one day end. This gives me hope when activism gets tough and I’d love to know what gives you hope!
We also had conversations with a number of people about how we can be rooted in love in our campaigning, when so much campaigning works by demonising those who oppose us. Demonising others is an effective way of motivating campaigners and getting media attention, which are both often central to advocacy strategies. However, this may not be the most loving way to operate, and it often results in more brokenness and division in the long-run, even if we get a specific policy ‘win’. Yet, we also need to have an unflinching commitment to bearing witness, to telling the truth about what is going on in the world. After these discussions we decided to run two community sessions on gentle activism to help us think about how our campaigning and activism can be conducted in a way that invites those we are targeting to transformation, as well as addressing injustice.
I’m so excited that so many people from our latest Praxis Labs course have joined us in our community as we dig deeper into gentle activism. We’d love you to join us and become a part of our community if you aren’t already. Find out more about the Hopeful Activists’ Community here.