Legacies of Systemic Injustice

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners 

never do.”     ~ Samuel P. Huntington

“This toiling humanity, inhumanly exploited, these paupers, controlled by the whip and overseer, have been little reckoned with. From the dawn of independence their fate has been the same: Indians, gauchos, mestizos, quadroons, whites without property or income, all this human mass which formed the ranks of the ‘nation’, which never reaped any benefits…which continue to die of hunger, curable diseases and neglect, because for them there are never enough essentials of life — ordinary bread, a hospital bed, the medicine which cures, the hand which aids — their fate has all been the same.” Second Declaration of Havana, February 4, 1962

Immersion-learning journeys nearly always involve crossing boundaries not only of geography, but also of race, class, and culture. Most participants in a UUCSJ journey are citizens of the United States. Even those among us who come from poor or working-class backgrounds are among the most economically privileged compared to most of the population of the planet.

How do we understand the great gulf between rich and poor countries today? How do we step forward — with wisdom, respect and the willingness to learn — into the lives of people who have almost no access to the comforts we take for granted? These comforts include such basics as food, water, clothing, shelter, and health care.

Deepening our understanding of who we are and how our social identities shape our experience, as reviewed in the past two units, is one way we show our willingness to learn. Another way is to learn about the large economic structures shaped by colonialism in our past, and supported by deeply unfair economic systems and policies in the present. This unit is designed to introduce you to some elements of colonialism and its modern manifestations.

Opening Meditation
“The Real Work” by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

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