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See, Judge, Act

I wrote this article for the 2018 Fools Fables. That year we focused on Citizenship. I find that the theme of that year and what I wrote feels very relevant today.


I have always had enough, including people to support me and encourage me in my choices and transitions. I have always had a healthy mind and body that facilitate my ability to function within complex systems and social relationships, and a skin color that affords me privileges many don’t have. For more than half my life I have lived amongst people in the U.S. and Latin America who are impoverished and disenfranchised. I see in San Francisco, as I have in various cities and countries, people with political and economic power making decisions and policies that negatively affect far too many people, and the earth as well. Consequences are often devastating for people who already have limited options due to poverty and/or physical and mental health challenges. It never ceases to amaze and anger me at how the focus of blame is placed upon those negatively affected instead of challenging decisions made with blatant disregard for the good of all.


As I contemplate our work as Faithful Fools through the lens of “Citizen,” I am reminded of the practice of SEE – JUDGE – ACT. I was a young adult when I read an encyclical written by Pope John XXIII about “Reading the Signs of the Times.” It is a process used by individuals and groups to see beyond headlines and news reports. It requires us to look more closely at situations and experiences through doing social analysis and in-depth reflection. Taking the time to study and reflect helps us to determine actions we can take to change or transform a situation.


I am personally grateful for the resurgence of this practice as it is ultimately at the basis of our street retreats and everything we do as Faithful Fools. In order for personal and social change to take place we must look beyond the surface of a situation and include ourselves in the picture. As our friend and colleague Erin Brigham writes in her book, SEE JUDGE ACT, “Though the phrase see-judge-act emerged in a Catholic context, it describes a process that people use implicitly and explicitly in many different contexts to observe situations, to evaluate them in light of understandings of what is good and right, and to act in ways to improve those situations.”


Faithful Fools is grounded in a particular community. We challenge ourselves daily to live and work together as a community for the well-being of the whole. No one can be considered worthless or insignificant!


As we enter our 21st year, my commitment, together with a resilient community of Faithful Fools and neighbors, is firm and unwavering. I look again at our mission statement and I imagine what a world could look like if we really believed in the “worth and dignity of every person.”


Download a copy of the complete 2018 Fools Fables or take a look at all the Fools Fables here


2018 Fools Fables Citizenship
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