The gaze. It is the gaze of generation of young people who have witnessed the systemic injustice, the heartbreak, the abuse, and the neglect that children have endured. This gaze is not a gaze of hopelessness. These people, arm and arm, have not given into despair. They have met the harsh reality that the solution isn’t easy. Love and kindness alone cannot fix the decades of oppression. They are heartbroken. They will never be the same. But arm in arm they realize that realities like this are just, that realities. With each shoulder, they sense responsibility. They are not responsible to save the child they fell in love with that week, as much as they may feel that burden. They are responsible for remembering. They are responsible for advocating. They are responsible for being bigger than the petty competitions, materialism, or self-absorption for which we are tempted. And we accept the responsibility. Will you join us?
This is one of the 11 photos and narratives our youth mission team has posted as part of our Pine Ridge photojournalism exhibit which opens today, Friday. Take a break from the heat and booths to come inside our church art gallery and hear the stories of the children and culture who have forever changed our lives. Youth and leaders will host the gallery from 11 am – 2 pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Hope to see you there!