Monday, June 21, 2010

Systems of privilege

I completed my first 24-hour on-call yesterday, and my friend David did his on Saturday. Between the two of us, and our colleague Mike, it was a violent weekend. I read with interest the local blog about riding with an ambulance as well.

I was driving my daughter's friend to our house today (we've got two friends spending the next day or two, which is amazing fun), and she was interested in what I am doing. She asked me, astutely (and desperate not to sound racist), if a lot of the patients who were victims of violence were people of color. And that is astute, because as we talked, we explored the interconnected systems of privilege that create a situation of violence and inequality.

There is of course, race. And perhaps more importantly, class. Access to education. Income. Access to jobs. Affordable housing. Trust (or lack thereof) in law enforcement. Jaded social workers. And the frustration that comes with all of these issues, creating hair trigger tempers based on a lifetime of living with less - and being looked down on all the while. This is one of those conversations that is inherently depressing, because it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to see a solution. It reminds me of the need to lower our expectations - yes, lower them, as Sharon Welch tells us in A Feminist Ethic of Risk. Because each small success is so important. And it's vital not to get burned out.

Today, in didactics, we had an interesting discussion about the NYTimes article regarding pacemakers as well. It occurs to me as I travel the hospital, that our technology, meant to save lives, sometimes creates ethical situations that turn a culture of healing into a culture of life with questionable quality.

I love ministry so much. Walking next to someone as they become. That is the gift. Midwifing families not through birth, but through death. That is a privilege. It's a hard choice - being called. This process of discernment about my path will be at least another 3 years in the making. But I can feel myself becoming. I am 10 times the minister I was 3 weeks ago.

Now if I could just get some inspiration for the 3 sermons I have to write to preach this summer. Time is running out and my brain is mush. One would think that I would feel passionately about so many things that I could write about them to share with congregations. But honestly, I'm just tired. A good tired though.


plaidshoes said...

I am glad to read you are having such a positive experience!

Marshall Scott said...

I'm glad to hear that you and your peers are reading the Times article on the father and the pacemaker. It's an interesting article that highlights many ethical issues - how much is our understanding of personhood based on cognitive ability; just because we can do something, does that mean we should; how do we negotiate the patient's right to decide on care (or the surrogate's right to decide on the patient's behalf) and the provider's right to practice; etc - that we wrestle with in caring for patients.

I appreciate becoming. Good for you - and for the peers becoming with you.