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Created: December 8, 2001
Latest Update: December 8, 2001

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Complicity Through Denial

Journal entry by Maria Martinez

Copyright: Jeanne Curran, Susan Takata, and Maria Martinez. December 2001.
"Fair use" encouraged.

On Saturday, December 18, Maria Martinez wrote:

When I was sitting in your class, Jeanne, I was listening to your speech. You were saying that when someone makes a wrong decision it affects many people. Those who are around are complaining about that particular (wrong) decision because they don't agree with it. Some people don't do anything about it because they don't want to be part of the problem.

Today, I was watching the news and I can see the extent of poverty in Pakistan. I noticed the poor people moving, without food, clothing, etc. to a safer place in order to save their lives. I dont feel comfortable looking at them suffering, but there's not much I can do to stop it. Does that make me part of the problem?

On Saturday, December 8, 2001, jeanne responded:

No, Maria. Your inability to stop the pain and suffering of others' lives does not make you complicit in the guilt of those who are inflicting the harm. As a matter of fact, your awareness of the pain and suffering, and your willingness to be aware of it, in spite of the discomfort it causes you, makes you part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The only reason that those who inflict so much suffering are able to continue to do so is that so many of us are willing to not look, to not be aware. Our denial that anything is wrong on the basis of our not having inflicted the wrong is complicity, the complicity of denial.

Does that help?

love and peace, jeanne