Sunday, February 20, 2011

peace quote of the day [response to injustice]

"Injustice done to you is not determinate of who you are." - Philip Endean

Is this true, or wishful thinking?  And in either case, what are the implications?  Plato declared that it was better to suffer injustice than commit it, because, while one distorted your soul, the other did not.  But while I agree with that, I wonder if we should hope, to some extent, that injustice done to us does determine who we are -- in so much are we are formed into individuals, and communities, committed to fight against it in all its manifestations.

Hoping to remain unchanged in the face of suffering seems to be a docetic denial of our embodied humanity, for we are not transcendent spirits, untouched by the world around us.  But we always have choices, and, where injustice is concerned, there seem to be two distinct responses: commit oneself to protecting one's own against such suffering, at all costs, or commit oneself to finding a new way to live -- one which does not require the oppression and suppression of Otherness.

This struggle is evident within feminism, where the divide runs deep between those who desire to gain power for women within the currently existing economy of presence and lack (an "us" vs. "them" which privileges the hitherto marginalized) and those who want to overthrow the whole phallocentric economy of power altogether.

And, of course, it is evident within the Israeli response to Palestinians in the shadow of the Holocaust.

Can we choose a new way forward?


pendean said...

this quotation is going round the web, attributed to me (I can't remember where I wrote it!). But I certainly don't want to talk about a docetic remaining unchanged. I think I wrote 'not determinative' or 'not definitive': of course it has its effects, but it is of faith that we can maintain a sense of God-given identity nevertheless.

AmelMag said...


Thanks for the clarification. And I have to admit that I picked the quote up secondhand from someone (not the best scholarship, I know), so I must apologize profusely if it's not accurate.

I included it here because I found it interesting and thought provoking, NOT to attack it in any way. And I wasn't trying to claim that you meant it in a docetic way, just that it was one possible (and somewhat problematic) interpretation. I actually think I agree with the quote (and possible interpretations) in many ways. I just wanted to think through some objections to my own agreement -- and hence the post.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Would you like me to take the post and/or attribution off?