Listening, and Working on Oppressor Distress


It is hopeful to see how we are moving in Re-evaluation Counseling to lead, or support those who lead, in raising awareness about the environmental changes we are experiencing. It is an interesting time to be alive and participate, all of us in our trenches [engaged in the struggle].

Last October, in Mexico City, Mexico, a citizen consultation was held on whether or not to construct a new airport on Lake Texcoco. Seventy percent of the water used in the city comes from the subsoil, and the lake is one of the few remaining places from which aquifers can be refilled. Most of the people who voted said that the lake was more important. It was a great battle won.

Before the vote, I invited my first-year students in civil engineering to talk about it. In the little time we had they could only have a minute and a half each, but it was an important space for them and for me.

Some of the students were for the construction, and some were against it. All of them were listened to and their opinions respected. At the end some of them commented that it had been the first space in which they’d really felt respected as people. Some said that it had been important to listen to others in order to see the bigger picture and make an informed decision.

For me, it was important to listen especially to those who defended the construction. I could see how my anger was assaulting my thinking—I immediately wanted to jump up and fight verbally. But I could feel the young people’s oppression in me and stop. That helped me discover some of my early hurts and see how oppressions have been operating on this subject.

Also in our country, an increasing number of migrants are arriving from Central America. They wish to reach the United States, given the poor quality of life they have in their countries of origin. This has been an opportunity for me to work on the classism and racism in our society. I’ve been working on my oppressor distress, and it’s not something I am enjoying. I feel uncomfortable and exposed. I have to keep my mind on the benign reality and remind myself that I am a good person while I also have distresses to discharge that are racist, classist, and oppressive to young people.

Listening in this situation means questioning at every moment the system in which I live and the things that I have learned. It also means contradicting the distress so that I can recover my humanity, my intelligence.

It’s good to know we have a space in which to do this work. Every day I realize more and more how important it is to be part of this Community. It is a privilege, and it fills me with pride.

Thank you all for doing your part.

Dulce Cisneros

Mexico, D.F., Mexico

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Last modified: 2021-01-27 00:16:50+00