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Craft, activity and play ideas

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Gabriel Mendoza
Gabriel Mendoza

STRANGER VERIFIED



I want to let you know that I, just last night, heard about your Dear Stranger program on the KGW Evening News and I am very excited to participate. Thank you for facilitating an old, tried and true method of communication. I remember exchanging letters with a high school friend who went into the military. We exchanged letters when he was in boot camp and I'm sure it helped him to get letters from home, making it not quite so lonely an experience. It was also interesting to me to hear what he was doing and learning. That being said, interaction with a stranger ought to prove even more interesting now that I'm 58 years old. Thank you again for the opportunity you're providing.




STRANGER



The stranger who wrote to me sounds melancholy, a notable contrast from my mood. At first I was disappointed, but the more I think about it, this is exactly why this project is successful: I benefit when reminded that there are differences in how people see the world. Not good, not bad, just different.


I sent and received a "Dear Stranger" letter. The prompt was "food" and it was easy to write the letter and thrilling to receive one.My "Stranger" included her return address so I have already sent her a postcard and a letter is on the way to her today.No doubt I will jump at the chance to write to another stranger.Thanks providing an opportunity for people to connect in positive personal ways.


Love the pen pal idea. It could connect us as a community again when other circumstances are tearing us apart. It can be that light at the end of the tunnel?. Question tho, would I need to start the letters out dear stranger? Or could I start them out dear friend or hello friend?Just wondering.


Not one to leave a stranger in want, Huatli rises on her tiptoes to snag an old piece of paper from another corner of the board and responds in a loopy and flourished hand. Thus begins their correspondence.


The woman across the street pauses, then squeals, a happy noise that carries across the cobblestones. The other pedestrians take no notice; the strangeness of strangers is a mundane fact of life in a city-plane.


A Tradition of Welcome and Pastoral ConcernThis call is based on the rich heritage of Scripture and the Church's teaching. The patriarchs themselves were nomads. Settled by the hand of God in the time of Abraham, they soon migrated to Egypt, where they suffered oppression and were delivered once again by God's hand. From this experience comes a deep appreciation for the plight of the migrant, underlined in the words of Scripture: "You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt" (Ex 23:9). "You shall treat the stranger who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you, have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once strangers in the land of Egypt" (Lv 19:33-34). The Torah made special provisions for immigrants with the reminder that "you too were once slaves in Egypt" (Dt 16:9-12): "At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithes of your produce for that year and deposit them in community stores, that the Levite who has no share in the heritage with you, and also the alien, the orphan and the widow who belong to your community, may come and eat their fill; so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake" (Dt 14:28-29).


Indeed, the experience of exile, oppression, and deliverance to the Promised Land is the central act of the drama of salvation for Judaism. In honor of God's deliverance of his people, Israel was enjoined to show justice towards all: "For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes; who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him. So you too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt" (Dt 10:17-19). Jesus echoes this tradition when he proclaims prophetically, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35).


The Church has remained faithful to this call to care for migrants of all kinds and has responded accordingly over the centuries. The apostolic constitution Exsul Familia, promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1952, takes its name from its evocation of the "émigré Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt," to which the pope pointed as "the archetype of every refugee family." Pope Pius XII recalls a long tradition of papal solicitude for immigrants and refugees, noting the hospitality to strangers and refugees traditionally provided by the Holy See and recalling the words of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215: "We find in most countries, cities and dioceses people of diverse languages who, though bound by one Faith, have varied rites and customs. Therefore we strictly enjoin that the Bishops of these cities or dioceses provide the proper men, who will celebrate the Liturgical Functions according to their rites and languages." The pope cites with pride, as one proof of the Church's constant solicitude in this respect, the provisions for the establishment of "national parishes" in the United States in the nineteenth century to accommodate the immigrants of that era.


As Catholics we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion that is our destiny as Children of God. We commit ourselves, accordingly, to working to strengthen understanding among the many cultures that share in our Catholic faith, to promoting intercultural communication among our people, and to seeing that those in ministry to our communities gain the language and cultural skills necessary to minister to the immigrants in our midst.


Note also that the perception of others is also an impression of others: to made into a stranger is to be blurred. I have since described racism as a blunt instrument, which is another way of making the same argument (Ahmed 2012: 181). Stop and search, for example, is a technology that makes this bluntness into a point: Stop! You are brown! You could be Muslim! You could be a terrorist! The blurrier the figure of the stranger the more bodies can be caught by it.


Here I am speaking primarily of how strangers become objects not only of feeling but also of governance: strangers are bodies that are managed. Or perhaps we should say: the governing of bodies creates strangers as bodies that require being governed. Gentrification for instance is an explicit policy for managing strangers: ways of removing those who would be eye sores; those who would reduce the value of a neighbourhood; those whose proximity would be registered as price. We learn from this. There are technologies in place that stop us from being affected by certain bodies; those that might get in the way of how we occupy space.


If I have focused thus far on how strangers become phobic objects, I have more recently been thinking about how strangers can be created by not coming into view. A stranger might be the one to whom we are not attuned. (For a short discussion of attunement, see here).


Attunement might create the figure of the stranger not necessarily or only by making the stranger into an object of feeling (the stranger as the one we recognise as not being with), but as the effect of not leaning that way. Strangers thus re-appear at the edges of a room, dimly perceived, or not quite perceived, lurking in the shadows. 041b061a72


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