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Injustice never takes a vacation, even if you do

December 18, 2011

In Arles, when we were visiting an old church, there was a gypsy lady outside on the church steps silently begging for spare change, and her daughter was running around in the square by a fountain. There were other children there teasing her, chasing her, and harassing her. Witnessing that injustice made me feel very angry and hurt, for that little girl. She did not choose her life at all, and what little dignity she was seeking out was being robbed and violated by the other children, who were obviously better-off financially than she was. I did not like the way the little girl ran about in the street (and crossing it without appearing to pay attention while doing so) because I was worried that she might be struck by a car or knocked over by someone larger than herself. I would have liked to say some stern words to her tormentors, but I couldn’t, or perhaps I wouldn’t, because my courage failed me in front of the five NT’s, three of them my immediate family members, that I was with. Ivan might have spoken up anyway, but Athena wouldn’t in front of family and friends, because if she did she or Ivan would have gotten lectured about it, and we both detest being lectured to over something like that. If only we weren’t so cowardly in front of NT’s…perhaps it’s not really cowardice at all, but something else that I don’t have the right words to describe. We keep telling ourselves “next time we’ll say something, next time we’ll do this or that even when we’re told otherwise, etc. “ and when next time comes around, we do the same thing we’ve always done: keep our mouth shut or fail to take whatever action we were intending to but refrained from taking. Maybe my lecture to those other children would have fallen on deaf ears, or maybe they would have made fun of me and her both. But at least if I had spoken out, I would have done something I could truly feel proud about.

ETA: To the little gypsy girl: We’re so sorry that we didn’t stand up for you. There’s not much of an excuse…..(this event happened 5 years ago, I had it in my drafts…..)

Andrea the Integral, collaborative

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