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Who came before us and what are we leaving behind?

August 30, 2021

I am part of a national team that facilitates conversations around justice. This week I was in Gallup, New Mexico to learn from our Navajo friends about their experiences and to learn from their stories. So many injustices happened, so much trauma. Together we created a wreath of orange little bags filled with tobacco in the Navajo tradition to remember the many children that were in boarding schools in the US and in Canada and who died and never were acknowledged. Many of my friends who were at the training this week have lived in boarding schools and have experienced terrible things.

That made me think about the many things we do with good intentions but that have often unintended consequences for the recipients of the actions.

When we continue to hand out free stuff but do not provide enough opportunities for people to step out of poverty, we do harm.

When we want to help countries with aid, but don’t give leadership and training to the people who are on the ground, we do harm.

When we make rules that need to be followed but never give the reasons why or regularly reevaluate them, we do harm.

When we give out food boxes that do not have much nutritional value, we do harm.

When we have church rules that people don’t understand and we expect people to conform, we do harm.

When we want to decrease our need to non renewable resources but don’t think through the cost of renewal resources, we do harm.

When we want to increase food production and over use chemicals and hormones for a bigger crop, we do harm.

When we expect people to live into our culture because we are comfortable with it, we do harm.

As I am leaving Gallup I need to rethink how I am doing things and really evaluate if any of my good intentions create harm. My good intentions alone might not be enough to make for a better world and a more secure eternity.

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