Greetings, PJSA and friends in the movement!
We hope that everyone is safe and well, physically, mentally and emotionally. The global pandemic has certainly altered our lives in many ways, but we are pleased to see the resilience, inspiration, and creativity from our peace and justice colleagues. This issue’s emphasis on healing couldn’t be more important at such a time. Here, we wanted to share some perspectives on healing as it relates to us personally and to PJSA.
Laura: As some of you know, I was in a bad traffic accident on July 20 that resulted in a broken clavicle, my pelvis broken in two places, and my right femur broken. I had surgery for the latter and am still recovering. To say that it has been trying is an understatement. Ten weeks later, I can still only walk awkwardly and slowly with a cane, and it will be many more months until I can drive or run. I am grateful to so many people during my healing, however. My husband and daughter have been amazing, both in regard to the physical things I need help with and keeping my spirits up. So many friends have called, messaged, Zoomed, or even safely stopped over. My doctors and nurses were fantastic, with the nurses doing double and even triple duty since no visitors were allowed when I was in the hospital. Now that we’ve started back at my university I am teaching remotely and am enjoying my students, who seem to be doing well with this educational format. Although I am limited in terms of what I can do, I am healing in physical therapy and with pool-based exercise, where many neighbors have become good friends. In sum, while I wish I did not have to be healing from a major injury, I am grateful that I am doing so with so much love and patience.
Like most organizations, PJSA was forced to cancel its in-person conference due to COVID-19. While this was a difficult decision, the Board is so happy with how the alternate plans have gone. The virtual conference that spans three months has been enriching and stimulating, and it is wonderful to see how many students are participating. Having to adapt our plans for the conference has resulted in invigorated engagement on the Board and new and exciting ideas that will make our organization even better.
Jennie: How apt, this theme of healing, in today’s world. The idea of healing reminds us that as bad as things may be, we are always in flux; that we are astonishingly resilient, that we adapt in the most remarkable ways, and that we can even be positively transformed by those things that break us but do not ultimately do us in. It reminds me of the exquisite Japanese practice of kinsugi, the art of repairing broken earthenware (bowls, goblets, vases) with tiny veins of gold, thus enhancing them and expressing a belief that a thing so repaired, or so healed, is in fact more beautiful for having endured that hardship and been lovingly repaired. (Looking at you, Laura!) The message of kinsugi is that we need not hide our brokenness; we can bring it out into the open, and in doing so, magnify our capacity to handle what life throws our way. As many have remarked about the COVID-19 pandemic, we can use it as an opportunity for building back better. Some people already are, and we honour their spirit of pro-social innovation.
There is hope in healing – whether it be from broken bones, a devastating forest fire, a pandemic, or a broken body politic – but we sometimes need help to feel it. Healing is rarely linear or consistently moving in a forward direction; we suffer setbacks, lapses, losses, stagnation, and frustration as part of the process. Sometimes even more hurt is necessary before healing can begin. It’s the overall trajectory of healing we need to focus on, like that moral arc of the universe eventually bending toward justice, as MLK so famously observed.
At the time of this writing, none of us knows where we will be – socially, emotionally, environmentally, politically – when you readers see these words. Our physical healing from the pandemic may have begun, or we may have sunk even deeper into an illness we don’t yet know how to cure. Likewise, our political healing from years of increasing fear, divisiveness, and existential danger (especially to Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour) may be starting to take hold, or it may still be eluding us, not yet within our reach. Our planet will be engaged, as it always is, in continual healing and regeneration – one day, we hope, at a pace more rapid than its degradation.
Regardless, we will need to have faith that we can heal, and we will need to match that belief with continued and determined action to ensure that healing is realized. We have been in places of illness, brokenness, and despair before, and it is good to remember that we can recover. Let us be not only warriors for justice, but also healers aiming for wholeness – going beyond restoration to transformation. Like kinsugi gold, let us highlight the spirit, love, courage, and togetherness that healing is made of.