I lived in SE Asia for three years. I am going back, maybe sooner than I think. Life was difficult and busy. I did not blog or read blogs. I did not tweet. Instead I took care of troubled kids: and one kid killed a cat, another poked the eye out of a fish, and one carved on a chair day after day.
Lately as I’ve become more disillusioned by the internet, I’ve begun to understand why.
Most social justice is nothing like the internet.
In SE Asia I was underappreciated and powerless. For every step forward, it felt like we all made ten steps back, myself included.
I always did a lot of science experiments with the kids, or we would go fishing, and swimming, and cycling.
One night we went fishing in the dark, by candle night. We came home, and the girl screamed that she had to do the dishes.
The therapist tried to show the girl how to ask to go to her room (or outdoors, or somewhere separated) before she lost control of her emotions. But then at other times, she’d lose it, and go to her room and scream for an hour, unable to control herself. (<–my neighbor said she’d hear it.)
It was like demon’s in the closet.
And so social justice in SE Asia was nothing like shouting on the internet and taking down patriarchal beliefs with blog entries, emails, and signatures. It was nothing like phone calls, or a 40 hour work week.
Nor did it involve rescuing someone from their evil father, and going on with life.
Social justice was picking the same kid up over and over.
Social justice was picking the kid up, knowing she’d fall back down, and I’d be picking her up tomorrow.
If I shouted at all, it was through such a heavy fog that no one could see my voice.
I was a nobody, that girl clamped up in the corner of church, often weeping but unable to talk it out because I wanted the kids to have a chance to start life without the gossip of the church. I was that girl fighting for justice but with no voice. (Of course, there was one lady at church who knew, and she’d pray over me every Sunday. I never talked about the kids, but she knew when it was tough by my face, and she held my shoulder.)
When I started this blog, I never intended to be living in North America a year later, and I certainly did not plan on meeting the people who formed Homeschoolers Anonymous.
The shouting has been good. Change in homeschooling is in the air, mostly thanks to my friends not me. My online friends have challenged the Pearls, challenged HSLDA to stand against child abuse, and brought awareness through their websites Homeschoolings Invisible Children and Coalition for Responsible Home Education.
But you know, none of this changes the pain and the brokenness. If all the fundamental homeschool organizations fall today, we still have the broken pieces left over that are not as easy to put back together as to write a blog entry.
It’s like my kids. There was much rejoicing when they were rescued from their abusers, but the kids will always live with that damage.
There is not a mass exodus going on her just because there is several thousand blog entries written by former fundamental survivors.
The internet is hiding our pains, and yet revealing them at the same time.
Fundamental survivors are snapping at each other. People have snapped at me on twitter. I’ve snapped back. Some individuals from Stuff Christian Culture Likes have gone insane, in my opinion. As my friend Sheldon said, fundie survivors are fighting with other fundie survivors. A couple of well-known bloggers are spending their entire last two months blogging about the evils of Doug Philips and becoming mean-spirited over this, and my hands are not clean either.
I think the part that hurts me most is not that people fight. It’s when one survivor turns to another survivor and says, “You are standing up for the oppressor” when the tweet just expressed sadness that our brokenness has taken us this far.
It just goes to show that an individual’s heart is not put back together as fast as it was broken in the first place.
I, too, am broken.
I am not giving up the internet, but the internet will not be my life. I need to hug people in person. I need to shout in the fog and pick individual’s up, with no promise of progress.
Vision Forum collapsed, but both parents and students of vision forum are still here. I am glad that such an evil organization is gone. It’s a relief, really. But the legalism and patriarchy will continue on.
The broken pieces will go on without Vision Forum.
Sometimes social justice requires that I get hurt. At night while the kids roamed the village, I went to my secret prayer spot in a field. And I would cry, and I let God have my tears. Because the kids did hurt me. I was fighting, but it hurt because I cared.
I know when I step out on the internet, or when I message a homeschool mom, there’s a risk. The risk is that the “abuser” will not hear me out. The risk is that I could fall victim to the little girl of my past, the little Lana whose mother said she was disrespectful and speaking too loud.
But it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Perhaps because this time I have the adult privilege of shutting the computer screen and saying, “bye.”
Most of the time social justice is not as easy as writing even a thousand blog entries.
But I’m tired of this. I’m tired of taking this from the top down. I miss that face in front of me, I miss the days when Fon would jump in my bed, weeping over a nightmare, and we’d press forward with Fear and Trembling.