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Willful Innocence

At a time when industry giants, celebrity politicians, and entire socioeconomic communities are being forced to confront their collective wrongdoing, we as individuals are faced with our own reckoning: What role have we played in allowing these corruptions of power to exist?

How has our inaction caused hurt? We are all complicit in our misunderstandings of one another, but we can no longer pardon ignorance as an acceptable form of justice. Entire populations, nations, and industries have tried to blame their missteps on ignorance — it’s the reason why blackface, childhood sexual abuse, college bribery scandals, and even wars, persist. But in this age of hyper-connectivity, it is as much a privilege to be willfully ignorant as it is to turn a blind eye to inequities once we recognize them.

So how can we unpack this presumed and perceived innocence in order to better understand one another and our respective motivations? What role do apologies have in our individual and collective endeavors toward progress, toward both being and doing better? And what part does shame have in helping or harming the process of learning from our mistakes? It’s much easier to vilify people than it is to see that they could have both dark and light in them, but is there a point at which giving others the benefit of the doubt does more harm than good?


For this issue, we’re examining the complexities of claiming innocence. Tell us about a time when you failed to take responsibility for your own actions, and what the aftermath revealed about yourself. Tell us about how your boundaries or identity have been violated, and how you rebuilt trust with yourself (and the world). What are the cultural beliefs that have stemmed from our collective victim mentality? How can we learn from moments of failing so that our anger, grief, and shame can propel us toward conversations and healing? And what does forgiveness look like from where you hurt?


Issues & Residencies: Beginning in 2018, The Seventh Wave shifted to publishing two digital issues per year, each tied to an artist residency on the east and west coasts. Issue 10 is anchored in New York: we will invite four artists & writers to our Rhinebeck Residency in July 2019. These four residents will be among our first-published contributors for Issue 10. Issue 11 — we have yet to open that call for submissions — will take place on Bainbridge Island, Seattle, in February 2020. These residencies are open to anyone around the world, and seek to create conversations across borders and boundaries.

Our call for applications for our Rhinebeck Residency will close May 15, 2019, and our call for submissions for Issue 10 will close May 31, 2019. Please see our Submission Guidelines for more information.

(Featured image courtesy Anderson Mancini).