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What is tangled in your web?
Submitted by skastrul on 2012-07-25T13:16:14
Recently one of our residents, Ruben Alvarado, came into my office and schooled me on something that we talk about quite often: oppression. Ruben told me about what he calls the spider web. We all have a spider web, and it connects us to those things that make us who we are. Our family, community, jobs, lifestyle, habits, and clubs are some of the things that make up our spider webs. We take these things with us everywhere we go, and sometimes we happily share what we have on our web with others. Other times we may want to hide our webs because they are a reflection of a past that we may need to separate ourselves from.
Ruben has been eagerly looking for help desk and support positions. He found that his calling is to help people. He can apply his technical knowledge in these roles to help people work through their problems with applications. He recently went to Operation Cease Fire, which was rumored to have closed due to lack of funding, but is still doing business. He went into this meeting thinking that he was going to do help desk work. He thought someone was going to say, “Okay here are the trouble tickets. This is what you can do to volunteer.” Instead, he was supposed to mediate a conversation between a gang that had shot a boy and the boy’s gang. This was a real life help desk!
At that point, Ruben found himself on the other side of the spider web looking in and having a real role to do, a role of service. This situation was not about helping somebody over the phone. Ruben, in this moment, was absolutely plugged in. And he was terrified. We talked about what that means to have such fear. It’s important because this is not a mistake, it’s not a dry run, and it’s not a test. It’s real. He realized that his life was leading up to this moment because he could use everything that he has been through, to help resolve this. But my God it’s huge. How are you going to resolve a life or death situation between teenagers and the retribution that comes with taking a life?
Now Ruben is tasked with bringing people from both sides of the conflict together to figure out how to end the shooting. It’s not to make peace. They can beat each other up with bats or fists. His task is to stop the gunfire. So he has to find out what each side wants and how that can lead to a cease fire. We talked a little bit about self-interest and how to accomplish this goal. How do you figure out what peoples’ self interests are? We talked about how during Tea, we’re looking at “love,” “fear,” and “fighting for.” It is the same sort of equation. What is it that these two people are living for? What is it that they love so much that it’s worth their lives? And when we know what they’re living for, and what their passion is, we support them. We recognize them. When we know what their fear is, we let them know that they are not alone. When we know what they’re fighting for, we stand with them in this fight.
He response was, “It’s the same thing we’re all fighting for, this concept of territory or machismo, to be the best gangster, to be the hardest, the toughest, the baddest, the best.” That brings us to that idea of legacy. Do we really remember the best gangsters? People are always trying to take their place. I am not into gangster movies, but I saw Scarface when it came out in the movie theater. What I believe is that it’s about showing no fear. Our ideal man shows no fear; he’s the man’s man. In Scarface, they’re just shooting at him, and there’s blood on the white suit. He is like, “I have no fear,” which means I have no weakness. This also means I am dead because fear is a reminder of our humanity. Similarly, love is the proof that we are divine.
We remember the best father on the block. We remember the best lover, the best person at building a community business, the best singer, and the best storyteller. Right now these young guys are writing their legacy. What strikes me is right now, is that Ruben is “righting” his. We all go into situations where we’re bracing the unknown, and it’s uncomfortable and scary. Ruben is walking right back into the belly of the beast. He’s armed with compassion and a way of understanding the complexities of the spider web.
We all have our own spider web, and it’s our network of influence. i.c.stars has one. We have a huge network in business and community. We all have a spider web, but it’s about how we use it to get information out to aid and support a community. Ours can be a safety net, a shield, or a place where resources are gathered. It can also inhibit us. So how did Ruben get out of the spider web he was in? He found another web and brought the two close together so he could transition. Now he’s looking at this other web from the outside of the web. He’s not stuck on it and trying to get off, but he’s literally looking at it from the other side. I think the spider web analogy that Ruben uses is important because we’re all part of a web, and our businesses are part of it. How are we being responsible for each other, our communities, our nation, and our planet?
Ruben is ready to serve. I saw him all day today, just mobilizing his base. It was community organizing 101. He was on the phone using all his connections to get people to gather for this meeting. He set up two huge meetings for today when the Cease Fire organization isn’t even supposed to be open. People are doing this without money and resources. This is about people saying, “I have a choice to make, and there’s not going to be any excuse for me not to do what’s right.” To quote Dumbledore from Harry Potter, “There will come a time where we must all choose between what is right and what is easy.”