Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some James Buchanan quotes

I listened to a lecture by my professor last night at a seminar called "Visions of Hope and the Global Ethic." He had some quotable quotes I want to share here:

On dialog (particularly interreligious dialog)

If you don't have the will to risk (your assumptions, your presuppositions, your beliefs), you won't be afforded the pleasure of a genuine conversation anywhere, nor will you have a genuine democracy.

He also said that transformation only occurs if we are willing to be changed by our encounters and conversations. Otherwise, all we have is presentation meets presentation.

On the perception of America around the world:
America is the gated-community of the world neighborhood. We want to keep others out and protect what we've got inside.

On invading other countries:
We can now invade a country with a satellite dish.

On hope and hopelessness:
Hopelessness causes us to withdraw, to lock doors, to retreat into the safety of our enclaves that share our beliefs, worldview, assumptions.

People go into their enclaves to avoid the big open spaces that postmodernity created.

If you have hope, you act. Hope leads to risk-taking action.

Hopelessness leads us not to creating a better world or believing one is possible but to protecting what we've got, to defending what we already have from being taken.

Dr. Paul Knitter, another one of my professors, was also there last night and he made this point about hope. Hope leads you to risk your life. Even when he worked in El Salvador in the 1980s and friends were kidnapped and murdered, they never gave up the fight. Losing someone you love forces you to hope that you can overthrow what is oppressing you. Hopelessness thrives when there is nothing to overcome and we fear losing what we have.


Dave said...

These are all pretty challenging thoughts, Julie. The sum total of them leaves me thinking, what do we do about it? How do we implement these insights in a meaningful way? What kind of difference are we able to make? I think he's right (or you are, whoever drew the conclusion...) that if we are primarily motivated by fear and protecting what we've got, we become hopeless, or another way of putting it, paralyzed and indecisive. I know that my own social activism and desire to be an agent of change has been hampered and sometimes compromised because I want to avoid standing out "too much" and having to pay a price (or subjecting my family to hardship) if I do something that really gets me in trouble or leads to social ostracism.

I think that problem afflicts a lot of people in this country who are dissatisfied with the status quo and the powers that be but feel isolated or otherwise unable to really nudge the ship of state in a more positive direction. As it is, I have gone more radical than most of the people in my immediate family and social peer group, and yet I feel like I am cutting deals with the devil all the time, whether it's paying my taxes, generally choosing to be less "in your face" when dealing with people who support any number of middle class suburban conventionalisms or continuing to participate in many other "business as usual" routines.

Does Prof. Buchanan offer any practical tips on how to come out of the enclave, or is he like me and any number of people who can talk a good game but pretty much blend in to what most everyone else is doing in middle class suburbia? (I don't mean for that to sound bitter or cynical, I'm just askin...)

julieunplugged said...

Your question is certainly the right one: what do we do about it? My professor said we have to face bravely tha we can't save the world, none of us will. What we can do is the little bit we can do. It takes some interest, some time, some awareness of our own resources to determine what that little bit is.

One time he said, none of us can do everything but all of us can do something. So please, at least do something.

I think of that every time I lose heart. I can turn off that light, I can combine driving trips, I can pay attention to elections, I can offer my writing services to underprivileged (something I have decided to attempt in Cincinnati).

His point about risking is obviously one you and I have both done and I supposse I have to recognize that there is a cost any time one risks. but there is also life and transformation, and dare I say it? God. That's what Bonhoeffer says. That's what James Cone says. That's what the feminist theologians say.

They might just be right.