Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Passionate Observer


Many desire objectivity and to be a “dispassionate observer.”

Advice given to me by a woman who was in her late 70s as she remembered her feeble husband who had a sensitive stomach and was easily bothered by light and loud noises. She told me, “When you ask God for a sensitive husband, specify what kind of sensitivity you’d like!”

Being a passionate observer simply helps me name my subjectivity, and speak my specificity!

I cannot and will not pretend that objectivity is possible or that I don’t have a subjectivity.  My favorite books are ones in which the author is self-aware enough to name their vantage po20161223_165546int. Audre Lorde was amazing at this. I’m pictured here with Hilary Scarsella, a writer, thinker, and friend who epitomizes the ability to think deeply, carefully, and non-ideologically about something, but also NOT succumb to the paralysis of analysis. Over at the important blog “Our Stories Untold,” she and other faith-related folks lift up the stories of survivors of sexual violence, share trauma theory, and articulate the impacts of silence in the church and broader society about sexualized violence.

Being a passionate observer means that reading the news about Thomas Garcia (assassinated by Honduran soldiers on July 15, 2016) doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other, but in my ears and eyes and heart and soul.  Another indigenous activist leader murdered! There is a sharp rise in violence directed at environmental activists. They are the targets of threats, intimidation, and assassination because they dare to protect the vital natural resources (relations) of their community from the global economy based on extraction.

Here’s more of Tomas’ story: According to eyewitnesses, a soldier who had been firing into the air lowered his M-16 and fired multiple shots directly at Tomas.  Tomas had recently arrived at the company’s installations as one of those who was at the front of the delegation; the whole group had not even had time to arrive and many were still walking down the hill that leads to the offices. As one woman from the community explained, “We didn’t even have a conversation with them, they didn’t say anything to us. They didn’t even wait for us to say why we there, they didn’t wait for us to say what we had to say. We saw Tomas fall, he fell from shots, including to his head.” Three other villagers were also seriously injured and required hospitalization.

Then the military blamed the violence on the grassroots leaders of COPINH, and spread that lie all over the media!!! If we are dispassionate observers, we’d get the wrong information. We’d become too scared or confused to get up the courage to participate alongside our neighbors.

We always need to consider the source, and our relationship to the source and the people in the story. Read the rest of this story here, and please, take action! Call for an end to US military aid to Honduras and on the Honduran authorities to respect the rights of the Indigenous Lenca people of Rio Blanco.

Unleash your passion and your observation skills. We need you, passionate observer.