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Allies Are Key

Blessed is one who has regard for the weak.  – Psalms 41:1

Early bird registration ends Monday, October 3rd for the WYOMING ASSOCIATION OF CHURCHES’ 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATING WYOMING’S DIVERSITY OCTOBER 13-15, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, CasperRegister now.

Our board chair, Carl Carmichael along with his wife, just returned from a visit at Standing Rock where Native Americans and others have gathered from around the world to protect the water from the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  Carl has agreed to share his experience of being at Standing Rock at our annual meeting.  He is an ally.  He saw not protestors, but protectors; not the weak, but the strong.

Had the Standing Rock Tribe chosen to remain silent and not invited others to stand with them, the tribe would have been weak.  Had people from around the world not supported them, the tribe would have been weak.  Blessed are those who are standing together at Standing Rock with regard and respect.  The effort to protect the water is far from over, but a strong movement has emerged.

I teach a college-level class in Fort Washakie about ethics and the law for human services.  A couple of weeks ago we played an educational simulation board game called, “The Game of Oppression.”  One of the cards that a player may acquire in the game is an “ally” card.  The card requires the player to say what characteristic they would like in an ally, such as compassion or generosity.  An “observer” is given the card that empowers that observer to become an ally and to help a player experiencing “oppression,” something which we hope happens in real life.

Last week we watched a video of an interview of Amy Goodman from Democracy Now.   She was at Standing Rock and arrested as she was covering the story as a reporter of what is happening there.  After we watched the interview, the students named who are the allies and who are the oppressors in this real life situation, not a simulated game.  It is apparent the important role of allies along with a free press and freedom of speech in addressing oppression.

This week I spoke to a group of public health professionals meeting in Cheyenne on the connection between health and racism.  We talked about “white privilege,” not something to feel guilty about, but how we need to understand it and can use it effectively to be allies.   Becoming allies is part of the cure for the disease of racism.  “White privilege” is the topic of a workshop I will lead at our annual meeting.

Sometimes people tell me about skills or resources that they have that they would like to share with the less fortunate.  Or they ask me how they can help.  I confess that I don’t always have or know the best means to use these potential allies.  I want to change that.  Perhaps we can develop an “Ally Bank?”  Pray with me and help me think about how that might best work.

See you soon at our celebration and appreciation of diversity?

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The Wyoming Interfaith Network, shares the vision of the Interfaith Alliance by bringing together the diverse voices of our own community to challenge religious and political extremism. We also work to protect religious freedom in ways that are most relevant to our community.
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