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Thoughts on "shaming" and the prophetic tradition

posted by drew

03.26.15

It's become fashionable to say that there is no place for "shaming." I think this is largely a matter of semantics. How about if, instead of "shaming," we used the words, "accountability" or "discussion of."

Our first concern must always be stopping oppression, injustice, and systemic violence. The feelings of those willfully or unconsciously perpetuating injustice can never take priority over the lives of the oppressed. To underestimate the tenacity with which some will cruelly cling to power is to be historically naive.

The Hebrew prophets used fiery, oftentimes harsh, oratory to nonviolently advocate for society's most abused, challenge the violence of state power, and call for reforms and transformation. Today some call this "shaming." (And believe me, I understand the concerns about the 'uselessness' of 'shame' and 'shaming,') but we need to think VERY clearly and VERY carefully before we dismiss or 'tone-police' prophetic voices of the politically marginalized. I seriously think some folks today would call out Dr. King for 'shaming' segregationists. I mean that. There is a difference between unhelpful shaming, and speaking truth and holding decision-makers accountable. We need to understand that difference. 

Filed under Politics, Activism, Culture


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drew dellinger

Drew Dellinger

Drew Dellinger is a speaker, poet, writer, teacher, and founder of Planetize the Movement. He has inspired minds and hearts at over 1000 events around the planet, performing poetry and keynoting on justice, ecology, cosmology, activism, democracy and compassion.
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