grim realities & the force of spirit

I’ve just perused several blogposts about Ana and Alf. They are obviously remarkable people, their cadre of friends a passionate force of spirit.
A professor in the Social Justice Program challenged me, some years ago when I was learning about the range of discrimination and depth of oppression of people with disabilities – in particular, struggling with issues of accessibility. How far do we go, she mused out-loud, to “limit” ourselves in order not to deny access to someone who couldn’t be present (if for instance, someone wears perfume, or there is no ramp, or interpreters are not provided, or an activity requires the use of hands….) Her point was, the list is long, if we do everything to include everyone there will be nothing left to do. The matter of access is much more complicated than that reduction, but the sense of her point in context had something to do with the continual embrace of new struggles. I understood her thoughtful comment as a critique of my willingness to put energy toward “each new thing” and a question of whether shifting focus benefits social justice in the long run.
There is a danger of being overwhelmed by crisis, because there always is one right after another. The challenge is not to drop the previous struggles, rather, their lessons must be carried along into the new situation.
The lessons of previous kidnappings in Colombia are grim. The news headlines alone tell a discouraging story:
Efforts to Release Hostages in Colombia Stalled – an NPR radio commentary from two months ago, refers to an article printed in December: Bungle in the Jungle.
This appears to be a potentially pivotal time, actually, as Venezuelan President Chavez made a proposal just last week on behalf of FARC. Chavez has recently been negotiating the release of some hostages for some time (Fate Uncertain, January 1, 2008). Oliver Stone is even in on the action, upset after being invited to film a handover that did not occur. Just last week (January 10), two hostages were released.
My South American political knowledge is sorely shallow. I know Chavez came to power on a wave of working-class popularity, and has not made many friends among other governments in the region. He may also have lost some of his base … ? Aligning himself with FARC no doubt has all kinds of implications and serves multiple agendas.
What I have gleaned so far is that hostages are usually held for years. 🙁 I have not watched the “hostage appeal video” from last summer; I am sure the conditions are lousy and the treatment inhumane. How could it be otherwise? 🙁
All struggles that matter take time and involve many, many people. This isn’t going to be easy.

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