“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”
— From Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination
Sometimes people perceive that an advocate needs to be out in the streets and places of power advocating for concrete issues. Some people are very skilled and gifted at that. They move from issue to issue. That is not me.
Some people believe that to be a change agent, one must renounce all worldly trappings and become a monk who takes vows of poverty. There are people who have done that and inspire us all with their dedication. That is not me.
Some people work directly with people who live in poverty. The personal burdens of the person living in poverty become the advocate’s personal burdens as well. We can admire people whose life path leads them in this direction. This kind of empathy can be very empowering for both people. This is not me.
However, some people are called to challenge the status quo, to offer people alternative ways of thinking about poverty and people who are poor, and to help open people’s eyes to what poverty truly is and how it affects people. This IS me.
When I teach a group about Funds of Knowledge, I am helping them begin to see the world through eyes other than their own. When I facilitate a poverty simulation, I offer people the chance to experience for a moment what poverty feels like and the difficult decisions it demands. When I take people on a poverty tour, I offer them a different view of their hometown. When I run down a list of systems issues that allow for persistent poverty to continue, I offer the suggestion that there are other decisions that could be made in order to have a truly healthy community.
Professor Brueggemann’s quote resonated with me. I believe that there can be an alternative way of building our community, of doing business, of making laws, ordinances, and policies that allow for ALL people in our community to thrive. How that all can be done is usually beyond my knowledge or expertise. I can share what other communities may be doing but my role is to “nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.” This is God’s gift to me.