This is my mantra at the moment, the words I say to myself in every meeting and conversation I have: What’s the privilege I hold in this place, and how do I need to be here because of that?
I would far rather deny that I have power or privilege, than learn to live with its implications. I’ve spent most of my life in situations where I have very little power, and I don’t quite know how to live with the power that I now have, which partly comes through position, though more through education and experience.
I have power in every situation where I have a choice, and where that choice won’t have serious implications on my wellbeing – whether or not to say yes; whether or not to stay living somewhere; whether or not to move on; whether or not to have faith; who to talk to; who to work for; who to vote for; who to sleep with; what to spend money on; what book to read; what words to describe myself; what instructions to listen to…
Truth is, I have choice in far more places than I don’t, and much more than most people.
And with the capacity to choose comes extraordinary responsibility. Because when it comes to community, if I have choice where many others don’t, they live with the implications of my choice even if I get to escape them.
I don’t want to be part of the church. I really, honestly don’t. But because at the moment I have the choice whether to or not, and because the implications of choosing either way have a cost that won’t destroy me, at the moment I need to say ‘yes’ for those who don’t have the choice; for those who rely on the church for their survival, and who need me to put my money and energy into helping it be what it might be.
Which is why I stay around. And at the moment that’s a hard choice to make, and it’s one I make every day. So the second choice I want to make is to do so willingly, and without making those around me live with resentment or frustration. Because then I’d be denying that I had the privilege of making the choice in the first place.