On Bearing Witness: Saving Chickens, Saving Myself

Photo by Vince Wingate (CC BY-SA 2.0)

At Catapult, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee reflects on seeing and “being seen” — the silent gift of bearing witness to one another and individual suffering as a way of offering comfort and hope.

Last year, I watched a young woman meander toward the rail of the Golden Gate Bridge every five steps. I asked her if she was enjoying her Christmas Eve—and did she see the seals below in the water?

She smiled. I was not sure it was a real smile. But she did not venture toward the edge again. I know this, because I followed her at a distance to the other side.

In years past, I would have looked the other way. I would have thought it was not my business. In years past, I was that young girl. But my aunt kept me in her line of sight. She didn’t tell me to keep walking, I just did. And I knew she was behind me the entire time.

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