By Keith Pulling, CEF Outreach Coordinator
“Could the Community Empowerment Fund as an organization survive without love?
“It’s an interesting question, and one that is not so irrelevant to our organization, or the world as a whole. It’s a question that was recently posed to me as part of a speech delivered by Sam Wells (former Dean of Duke Chapel). In the talk, Wells argued that people, and students in particular, are trying to create a world that can properly function without love. We are working furiously to design and implement economies that will maximize efficiency and equity. We are reforming our school systems to ensure an equal and challenging education for all children, regardless of class or race. We are reading history books to learn of the foreign policy mistakes of the past, to ensure that we don’t repeat them in the future. But are we doing all of this with a posture of love, compassion, and intimacy? What good is a world with maximally performing economies, perfectly reformed school systems (whatever that may mean), and just foreign policies if the people that fill that world are alone and left with a feeling of emptiness?
“Maybe the solution to our problems is to take the focus off of the problem and back onto the people. As young students intent on change and justice, we get so caught up in fighting against institutions that we forget that we are supposed to be fighting for people. This is not to say that sometimes fighting against an unjust system is not synonymous with fighting for people—because often it is. But what happens when we win the battle? When we finally find housing, or employment, or healthcare for one of members? Do we simply check that battle off the list, and go on to fight against bigger and more oppressive institutions? Or do we take time to rejoice, knowing that the work that we do is work for people, and not just against institutions? It is a question that is central to the work of CEF as an organization, and to our lives as people in a world that is in desperate need of justice and hope. It is my wish that we can answer the question of could CEF survive without love with a resounding no, as we come to realize that we do not exist merely to solve problems, but to love people as well.”
Keith Pulling is a rising junior at UNC, and is spending his summer teaching a middle school summer program at Student U in Durham and interning at CEF as the Outreach Coordinator and general chief-of-fun-events and community-building. Thank you, Keith! For all that you do and who you are.
This summer, you’ll hear from a different member of the CEF summer staff every week! We’ll be collectively writing reflections on the day-to-day work with our members, office happenings, and lessons we’re learning. Look forward to more to come.