Phreedum ain't Phree

Every now and again I have the opportunity to facilitate workshops about the role of identity, values, and roles as it relates to counseling those who have been sexually abused and or assaulted. I find it quite enjoyable and challenging. My audience is typically college students eager to help and heal the world. Kind of like me, kind of like Phreedum. However, amidst all of the good loving we want to give there is the need to acknowledge how our identity, values, and roles impact the way in which we see those we hope to serve.
As I talked with the students and challenged them to think about terms such as privilege, gender bias, class, we found ourselves talking about the American Dream. We found ourselves discussing what the dream is and isn’t. One of the participants who is from Europe shared that she grew up with the belief that America is the land of opportunity. When she first came to Philadelphia, and having visited several other US cities, she was struck by the poverty. “I know in Europe we have poverty but I guess we, well a lot of countries, have moved to a more social model and we have policies that kinda help curb the poverty. But here, there is just so much poverty here. I was really surprised.”
After the workshop was over I continued to think about the sad surprise the student found when she came to the states. Amidst our nation’s glory she was overwhelmed by the pockets of our ugliness, poverty. And she wasn’t surprised that it existed, on the contrary, that it existed so much. Her observation bothered me. It bothered me that as a nation we struggle with our social responsibility one to another. We have so valued choice and protecting that right, that we have chosen inadvertently perhaps, to ignore the right to collectively support the welfare of one another. We have chosen to maintain systems that allow for “so much poverty here.”
I’m not one to guilt trip others so I won’t do that in this post. However, I am one to challenge others. So, I challenge you to consider if your lifestyle is one that allows for the maintenance of so much poverty. I challenge you to challenge your representatives to address the stains on our nation’s robe of glory. I challenge you reader to think about the American Dream, and if we as a nation are trying to uphold a dream that in turn for so many maintains a nightmare. I challenge you to support Phreedum, to support your fellow citizens’ freedom.

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