"You don't need to be a voice for the voiceless. Just pass the mic" Su'ad Abdul Khabeer
As a victim advocate working with immigrants affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, I struggled with the title advocate. It is my belief that people are the experts of their own experience, that there are dimensions to these violations that I will never be able to fully understand because I have not lived that experience. I do not presume to speak on behalf of someone, I only seek to amplify their voice so that they are heard.
I think about all the clients I ever worked with; the look on their face when I would tell them that a system had made an arbitrary decision about their future. I remember those moments, when the immigration application is denied, when there's no rent money, when it's the end of the month and all the food stamps have run out. There are no words to comfort or reassure; no justification for the failure of systems, or the flat out indifference.
There needs to be more of us. More women at these tables. More people of color. More immigrants. More people working within the system and challenging it from the outside. More experts of adversity who have lived realities of social inequality. The world needs more of a nuanced narrative than the dominant mix-tape that has been playing for generations.
What the world needs now is more advocates, not to replace the voice of people who are marginalized but to amplify it. The world needs advocates who can speak from lived experience. And those with privilege have a responsibility to create more seats at the table. There is no such thing as being a voice FOR the voiceless, people do not lose their voice they are either silenced or heard if we are brave enough to listen.
Love is for the giver. God abides in the love you give. First we are loved, love does its work in us and from us back out into the world. Love requires practice, a quiet discipline. I believe that as long as I have breath in my lungs I have the capacity to love and be loved. My heart is deep and wide and infinite like the universe. My hopes and dreams like stars pinned to the vastness of my potential. I will not write my love story as an obituary but will continue to love people everyday and hold to those connections like a planet in orbit. For as long as I have love I will be going in the right direction. Love cannot be limited to the idea of a soulmate or "the one". I already have many great loves in my life including sisters, brothers, nieces, friends and kindred spirits. Is my soul any less bound to them?
Love is like the sun, it warms the bones, can burn our skin may seem to disappear in the darkness of nights but returns in glorious morning. Even in bleak winter the sun can seep through to the ground waking dreams of spring to blossom. The heart may hibernate during the cold winter months but it is alive.
A paraphrase from 1 John 4:
Anyone who knows how to love knows God. If you don't love, you don't know God. No one has seen God face to face but when we love we show God how his love has made us whole. Because God loved us so greatly sparing nothing, not even his own son we should love each other extravagantly. We can depend on God's love as surely as our own. God is love, whoever lives to love, lives for God. Love gives us confidence in the face of judgement.
Love and fear do not mix. Love chases out fear. Fear is punitive, as long as you are afraid you can't love. Perfect love is fearless. We love out of the love God gives us. Love is for the giver. You can't say you love Jesus and hate people, it doesn't add up. And we cannot out give love; it always comes back to us multiplied, duplicated, replicated. Let your love be without conditions, for yourself, for your neighbor and for the world.