Today I got to listen to a presentation about liberation theology, and as I took notes on things known as well as new ideas, I re-lived my days in El Salvador when I first learned about this subject that has stolen my heart, my thoughts, and my Google Reader feed.
In the class I'm taking with Ciudad Nueva, we are currently exploring Poverty. As we read Ruby Payne's, Framework for Understanding Poverty, we are learning about characteristics within a culture of poverty and having many "aha!" moments while comparing what we're reading with the families that we work with here on the border.
Many of our families struggle with levels of income unimaginable to some. The median annual income for our neighborhood tends to be anywhere from $15,000 to $18,000. But one thing I am learning from our studies is that money is not the only active factor in a culture of poverty. There are so many characteristics that go beyond a lack of financial resources; a lack of emotional, spiritual, physical resources and support systems fill a culture of poverty as well.
The families in our neighborhood need to be liberated from hunger, from bad immigration law, from abusive relationships, from a lack of money to pay the gas bills, from racism, from being told their stories are not legitimate, from corrupt schools...from economic, political, and social systems that continually oppress them.
But the families and youth I work with are not the only ones that need to be liberated. We all--"rich" and "poor"--need to be liberated...
I love liberation theology because it forces us to first examine oppression that is actually happening; it forces us to listen to stories, to build relationships, and to fully experience reality. Solidarity is not just something we experience once and move on; as we walk in solidarity with those who are suffering--from poverty, depression, violence, etc.--we are called into a journey where oppression and brokenness might reign for now, but liberation and redemption are our Hope.