DETROIT: Conversation as Action-CPT Goes to the Source


27 July 2015
DETROIT: Conversation as Action-CPT Goes to the Source

By Harold Wheat

photo: Hayden Abene
CPT Detroit Delegation gathered at Source Booksellers for a presentation
and conversation on food, faith, and sustainability.  Pictured (from
left) delegate Cate Desjardins, delegation leader Sarah Thompson,
delegate Ian Sawyer, and bookstore owner Janet Webster.

Plato described it as finding your way out of the cave; social
activist Grace Lee Boggs spoke about the evolution of our thinking; Jesus said
to know the truth is to become free. They, and so many others, observed that
our minds are often limited by illusions. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)
takes great care to place ourselves in the path of individuals who can help us
more clearly see the truth of what is happening in our world and the way we are
attached to false narratives. Having given ourselves into the ongoing work of
freeing our hearts and minds, we also seek to create conditions that bear
public witness to the search for truth. None of us can leave the cave of
internalized oppression on our own. We need people who have experienced the joy
of this journey to invite, walk with us, hold us accountable, and celebrate
with us.

Often times, actions that bear witness to truth in the
context of entrenched oppression take the form of protest, transgression of
unjustly drawn boundaries, or creative venues for speech. But for our Detroit
Delegation action, CPTers went directly to the Source. Source Booksellers is a
small independent bookstore specializing in the kinds of books that awaken
consciousness and support people and communities seeking truth together. Storeowner
Janet Webster Jones collaborated with delegation leader Sarah Thompson to host
a conversation focused on food, faith and sustainability. Members of the
delegation presented stories guided by the five principles outlined by
Mennonite and writer Doris Janzen Longacre in Living More with Less (1980)—a practical guide for living in
sustainable ways that are mindful of both the future of the planet and the
plight of the poor:

• Learning from the world community;

• Nurture people

• Cherish the natural order

• Do justice

• Non conform freely

Detroit delegates shared life experiences and insight
with a crowded house called together to explore the possibilities of living
more intentionally. The free conversation after these presentations was full of
comments from people of many different backgrounds and life trajectories.
Participant Geraldine Jackson asked a fundamental question that had occurred to
so many of us in the course of our emergence, “Who’s making money on the city
of Detroit?” Following this question, tracing the path of influence and investment,
reveals various stories about how we relate to the narratives of white racial
dominance so deeply intertwined into the history of Detroit.

The realities are disturbing. Janet’s daughter Alison
noted that Naomi Kline (Shock Doctrine)
has analyzed how racism and greed function in the strategies used by global
financial leaders to deepen their control over public institutions. As we are
seeing with respect to the water shutoffs, often the answers we find only lead
to deeper questions about how to live with human integrity knowing what we
know. Although it might be tempting to lapse into despair or seek a less
demanding illusion, we learned at the Source that sometimes a conversation can
be an action.

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