"You cannot really be with the poor unless you are struggling against poverty."
- Gustavo Gutiérrez
Who am I?
My name is Justin Pearl, and next May I am traveling to the Palestinian West Bank to do peacemaking work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
For years, I have studied theology; I have read works of liberation and freedom, studied activists, and written the word "justice" more times than I can remember. Never has this work extended far beyond the protective walls of academia. But theology, limited to such an insulated perspective, cannot flourish, cannot produce real life or real justice. As Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote, "concrete, real-life movements are what give this theology its distinctive character ... faith and life are inseparable."
In this way, it is my hope that the CPT will give my theological speculations some legs, that it will provide an opportunity to put the theological work that I have spent so many years contemplating, into concrete practice, among some of the most rigidly oppressed people in out world.
What is CPT, and what will they (and I) be doing?
CPT is a great organization, run through the Mennonite Church, which is committed to "Building partnerships to transform violence and oppression." Simply put, CPT is a faith-based organization which sends non-violent activists into crisis situations (including: Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Columbia).
In Palestine, my work will be both humanitarian and educational. I will be working with local peace activists -- both Palestinian and Israeli -- in the city of Al-Khalil (Hebron). There I will participate in non-violent direct actions: including public vigils, documenting human rights conditions, taking part in street patrols, and joining with locally-led nonviolent public witness that challenges structural injustices. Additionally, I will be meeting with local human rights organizations in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the current political situation.
It is this new perspective, including both a first-hand account of the situation in Palestine and a deeper understanding of the work of local human rights organizations, which I will be bringing home with me. While there, I will be documenting my many experiences, and can only hope that my documentation might open up new discussions and dialogue back home, and might allow often repressed voices to be heard.
For more information on CPT's work in Palestine:
How can you help?
There are many ways to support CPT's work. First and foremost, CPT requires their participants to raise their own funds for travel and housing. If you are able, I could really use financial support in this endeavor.
Additionally, even if you are not able to offer financial support, there are many ways that you can help. Spreading the news, sharing the campaign link, publicly voicing your own support for the cause of the oppressed in Palestine, are all great ways to participate.
And last but not least, your thoughts and prayers are always greatly appreciated.