“We want the participants to learn that taking the victim role in any conflict leads to weakness and loss. We must know how to present ourselves in a strong way while we are facing any conflict.” - Ronza
In a world, where power and authority are so often used as tools to oppress and violently abuse others, at times, it can be difficult to associate power with something good. This can be specifically difficult for women.
“We have no power like men in our society. It’s a male society.” – Bethlehem Woman’s Group Participant
Misuse of power can easily lead to the presence of injustice and oppression. However, in Musalaha’s Bethlehem Women’s Group this past month, women began to wrestle with a different notions of power. In this meeting, women began by discussing the ways in which power has been used to trample and breed injustice; however, shortly after, they began to touch on the subject of God’s triumph and power over death. To them, this is a symbol of God’s power in history working to achieve justice. The God of the universe, full of power, but using this power not to act unjustly towards the weak, instead using His power to bring justice for the oppressed.
In this group, the ladies were asked to write their names ten times with their left hand. Most of them were grumbling and repeating the words: “no impossible I can't do it”, “It’s too difficult”, and “No way”. But in the end, they succeeded and wrote with their left hand, even though it was very challenging for them. After they finished, we asked them again to write their names with their left hands ten more times. This time, the experience was much easier for them.
When we are facing any change, challenge or difficulty, we often think immediately: “I can’t do it. This is impossible.” We refuse to go through a new experience because we feel that we are not strong enough to face any new challenge. Yet, if we pursue beyond our fears of challenges or difficulties, we begin to understand a new notion of power:
Power, not as violence, but as a means to make a difference in society.
In this meeting, women were encouraged to start thinking differently about power in order to make a difference in our society. The woman gave examples about people who transform communities with love, peace and nonviolence actions. Nonviolence does not mean passivity, victimhood, and weakness as we often can think. Instead, the person of power is the one who sees an opportunity for transformation in the middle of a crises or problem. In this meeting, women were encouraged to think of themselves no longer as victims of violence, but as women of power.
“We must have a role in bringing change in our society. We must not take the position of defeat and surrender.” – Bethlehem Women’s Group Participant