Day 28. Molino de Marzán, Barbadelo to Gonzar. 23km.
Blanketed in fog, Galicia remains shadowed in mystery. Silhouettes stand firm until the depth of their details can only be revealed within inches and feet. As you walk, the cool mist clouds your surroundings leaving you alone on the mystery of the road. Even my shadow, whose ever-present placement before me has been my guide, leaves me stranded in the fog as the sun cannot cut through this dense haze.
When you move through fog, your eyes must stay transfixed on what is directly ahead. Should you lose focus or become distracted the path quickly becomes lost below your feet. As my days on the Camino whittle into the single digits, a comment made on one of the early walking days continues to burrow in my mind, “It must be nice being born speaking the language that all other countries in the world are required to learn.”
For weeks now, this simple statement has rattled my conscious as a reminder of my unshakeable privilege. Spoken not as an accusation but as a friendly statement of fact, its truth could not be more revealing. I am white, I am male, and I was born in the United States. I cannot apologize for any one of those statements, I can only accept them as facts and recognize the weight of their truths.
Being white. For centuries Europeans have dominated humanity. Their segmentation and classifications separated various classes of people and created terms for our modern races (https://www.good.is/articles/the-last-country-to-still-use-the-term-caucasian). Through colonization their inhabitation whitewashed many native cultures and placed an emphasis on the dominating society. The white-mans’ hunger for power and wealth was only satiated by the fuel of another person’s strength.
Being male. The patriarchy has been the pervasive thread through much of history. Our dominance has silenced the voices of over half of the human population. Our testosterone fueled minds excites us to climb the latter to the top, while at the same time destroying the rings below preventing others to pull ahead (Hartmann, Heidi. “Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Job Segregation by Sex.” Signs 1, no. 3 (1976): 137-69. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173001).
Being born in the United States. While one of the youngest nations in the world, our history still reveals a legacy of violence. Our “first world” status holds a strength that grants us as an authority over older-lesser nations. Our wealth and hunger for prosperity, places an importance on industry over people and gives an unprecedented importance to the Almighty Dollar (http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-citizens-united-v-fec/).
Amidst this fog of privilege, it becomes difficult to see what is directly in front of you. At times my privilege clouds my vision and influence me to make decisions and judgements on details that are difficult or near impossible to make out from such a distance. I can walk steadfast and eyes forward and miss that the road is changing beneath my feet. I can misstep and stumble awkwardly through the mist and fearfully walk embarrassed of what is ahead. The shapeless silhouettes before me stand not as objects to investigate for more information, but rather as obstacles to overcome and tackle.
As I walk, pray, and meditate on the recents events in America, I feel as if a similar fog has fallen over the United States. Complacent by its cooling blanket we walk aimlessly. We neglect to see the changes of the road and fail to recognize our shadow who has always been our guide. Moreover voices of privilege, my voice included, overpowers the voices of those individuals whose voice could demystify the haze. We neglect to approach the matters from a closer, more intimate distance. When people of privilege refuse to stand within the necessary inches and feet to witness the immense details beneath the silhouettes, we miss the beauty and the wonder that stands immediately to our left and right.
Regardless of where we stand-politically, religiously, sexually, or ethnically-we are all walking through this fog together. It is time that we finally begin to slow down, to assess the road around us, to listen to our sisters and brothers, and to allow those who have been walking this road for far too long reveal its details to us.
The sun will shine again. The fog will disperse and details too will be seen again for miles and miles. But today in this fog we need to stop, slow down, and examine each careful step we take because the weight on our backs holds more than just our own destiny, but that of our fellow pilgrims.