Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Place of Suffering in Collective Consciousness

Comment #58 by SteveP on Counting Our Blissful Martyrs - Steve Evans (By Common Consent)

As I read this post I was thinking about the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda who have killed about 900 people since mid-December, and slaughtered 45 people in a Catholic church. I thought about the different ways that Palestinians and Israelis tell their histories and the ways words like Martyr and persecution play out in such conflicts. My first thought was our deaths and persecutions aren’t even in the same league. Then, set straight, by Ardis’ comments, I realized that this isn’t the way to think about the deaths.

Those deaths touched others and touch us in ways that still define us and give meaning. The number doesn’t matter. We are infused with who we are and have become by those deaths. My ancestors were able to do really hard and amazing things, in part because of the stories and meaning those deaths provided. It’s sort of like (and don’t take me wrong here) a kind of collective consciousness. Lots of things give meaning to who I am. Lots of people have suffered far worse things than I have, but it’s my own sufferings that define who I am.

Can’t this be true for us as a people, too?

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