What does a person from the United States have to say of value to colleagues in Pakistan about political consciousness? I am not entirely sure. But let me try by starting with my own initial struggles with consciousness and move to some of the lessons and questions gathered from friends and colleagues around the world.
I first got into a fight with political consciousness as a summer student in Mexico – not really understanding what it was, but feeling its consequences like an earthquake shake me to the core. For me at that time, the United States was a paragon of democracy, equality and human rights — principles I passionately affirmed. So when my Mexican history professor told us that the US had backed a coup against Guatemala’s democracy in 1954, I stood up in class and told him he was wrong. Profoundly disturbed, when I returned to my university, I spent weeks researching the case, only to find out he was right and I was wrong. That discovery led me to a life of constant questions and a career dedicated to advocacy and education on issues of peace, social justice and development.