Conversion to Solidarity

by johnandterri

One aspect of walking the Camino de Santiago, that Terri and I experienced, was how it tended to draw us closer to our fellow pilgrims over weeks of walking. I suspect it is the day after day of walking with each other, experiencing the joys, sorrows, pain and blisters of this long walk. There is great solidarity in the shared pain and joy of walking the Camino. The old saying “you have to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasin’s” or in this case “hiking boots” seems to ring true for truly understanding what it is like to walk 500 miles together.

I have been thinking this week, about the importance of solidarity, as I was reflecting on the ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd by the Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin. We are at a critical moment, a tremendous shift is taking place in America. People coming together and taking to the streets, not just for one day, two days, three days, but constantly. The great suffering and pain of racial injustice that society has systematically imposed on people of color has reached an inflection point. Many are saying that they’re not going to stop until we get the change that we need to turn this around in terms of what’s happening to Black people. We really do still live in a racially tilted, inequitable, unfair society.

So, taking a lesson from our Camino walk, I say we need to start to move and walk day after day in solidarity with people of color. Real change can begin when we develop friendships with people of different backgrounds and life experiences so we can share their joys and sorrows and begin to feel their pain and the way life is more difficult for them than it needs to be.

I can tell you this by the experience I have had walking with my friend, Rob, who has been homeless and has many physical and mental handicaps. Life has not been kind to him and he has become someone most everyone has given up on. I began walking in solidarity now for over two years with him. I can not tell you how it has changed us both forever. No matter how many books I would have read, or classes I took, they would never have taught me what I have learned about homelessness and poverty and mental illness from walking with my friend, Rob.

Part of the radical work of justice is that we have to imagine something that no one has ever taught us before. There is much we can learn when we walk in solidarity with those that have experienced the pain and suffering of racial inequality. I know I will be seeking out any opportunity I can find in the weeks and months ahead to be converted by a solidarity walk with people of color.

I realize that there is a lot more change needed in our society to make lasting change to the systems that are the root of the social injustice but I see this as one step forward I can take.

May we all walk together for justice and peace,

John

Photograph of the Week

Solidarity – The Forest and The Fern

This is an image I created recently from a silent walk alone on a hiking trail up near Darrington, Washington. I exited the trail when I saw the lighting, trees and sword fern and they looked so beautiful nested together. I created this very painterly effect from the photograph I captured.