The Journey series
This week's Mustard Seed presents some of my thoughts about being woke. Woke originated with African Americans in the 1800s to describe a state of being awake and unable to go back to sleep. Through the 1920s and 30s it became a call to activism against racial inequalities. By late mid-century it expanded to include suspicion of infidelity. With the growth of social media this century it crossed ethnic boundaries and entered general use to describe someone who is perceived as being aware of social issues.
Woke in its earliest sense is a very useful term. It's the state that makes me an early riser even though retired. Once my mind becomes active I'm awake regardless of my comfortable warm blankets.
Woke in it's second sense is testimony for it's own need. African American slang originated as code to evade oppression. One couldn't be punished for saying something their oppressor didn't understand. Yet this use is is more than mere recognition of a particular state. It acknowledges the need to adapt to the present while urging a fight for a more just future.
Woke in the third sense appropriates the first sense more accurately. Once one suspects infidelity it's very hard to stop. Relationships rely on trust and, once broken, trust is hard to regain.
Woke in the current sense is much too loosely defined. It would do well to draw more from the second sense. Once one recognizes a social issue it is hard to forget it, but recognizing it is not enough. We can't proceed as if it doesn't exists and we shouldn't just allow it to continue. It's of little use to say, "it's broken and they should fix it." Are we truly woke if our familiarity with a social issue remains superficial; we are aware that something is an issue, we protest, but we never examine alternatives; we never consider how to get from where we are to where we ought be? Can we be woke about every social issue?
"Your Mustard Seeds are about faith," you might say. "What has this got to do with my faith?" Go back to the start and consider how woke we are about our faith.
Next week: More Woke
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Peter T Elliott