in a Time of Such Great Change and Need
CS Sherin(Edited from the original post on my personal Facebook profile on January 31st, 2017.)
It may seem offensive and seemingly alienating to some that minorities who have faced violence with no justice to follow would be upset and vocally calling out the seemingly glaring selfishness…in seeing droves of white people out in pink p***y hats because they are feeling the elephant standing on their foot and they won’t stand for it, when there has been a cry for justice from the minorities for so long that goes unanswered. That calling out isn’t divisive. It is honest.
And this isn’t a competition on who has been most oppressed, suppressed, abused, decimated. It isn’t a negation of anyone’s challenges or real pain, or revelation to act now as opposed to earlier. It also isn’t a denying of the unifying and positive forces at work, and that continue to grow.
It IS a calling to self-evaluation that leads to an honest, humble, tangible, more effective response.
To review (for myself, and, perhaps for you–depending on who you are) and contemplate the following:
If I wasn’t speaking out on the injustices against Native Americans, Black Americans, immigrants, Flint, genocide, gross abuse of people, animals, resources, etc. before at all, and didn’t protest on people’s behalf before (in ways that are appropriate to who I am and what I am capable of), why didn’t I?
If I am protesting now, and otherwise activating, because my rights and those of my loved ones are being oppressed–what if that changes for the better for me in the near future, but it doesn’t change for others, and instead gets worse?? Will I be silent because my needs are cared for? Will I let “them” deal with “their” problems alone?
Will I let the few do the work of the masses?
Will I turn a blind eye if my fortune changes and theirs don’t?
Will I judge from my position of (subtle and not so subtle) privilege that I possess (despite traumas, abuses and oppression I have experience[d] and survived)?
Will I insist that my point of view/approach is a mold that all must fit into(subtly and unconsciously)?
Will I be able to recognize that what injustice/violence/oppression/destruction befalls any other human, animal and resource will not only affect me, but will affect generations to come indefinitely, and until we change our thinking, actions, and hearts for all Life.
I cannot champion every front, but I can learn to be an ally when a moment calls upon me to respond with courage, compassion, action, etc. In each now moment, my actions, thoughts, and intentions matter.
There are 100’s of effective ways to be an effective and productive activist. An educator, artist, writer, scientist, park ranger, actress, child, and any other manner of beings can be activists in unique and important ways that strengthen the whole. And even all of those approaches may not fit into molded ideas of those approaches.
Our individuality is a gift and our unique dreams and skills, and points of view are gifts that can make a difference for the larger movement and movements that must occur. Solidarity is necessary in times of crisis and danger. Yet individual expression is important too. And solidarity does not necessarily mean conformity or loss of individual values or unique approaches.
This process of self-evaluation and personal accountability, especially awareness of our privilege in the face of others whose oppression is deeper and more severe than the white experience. And we are all connected. This isn’t so that we paint ourselves into a corner or shape us into an unnatural mold of something we think we “should” be. It is about stripping away what is unhealthy in our conditioning, upbringing, communication, actions, and culture.
If I come to face and truly realize all this later, rather than sooner, it is still better than never.
If I (we) can stop reacting impulsively, panicking, and pointing fingers–if I (we) can unite because we have no other choice (survival-wise…and in honoring those who sacrificed already to get us this far), and do it in a way that channels all the visceral fear and anger into wise and creative action together, we will have grown and healed in a way that has not been seen yet collectively.
If those of us who need to, realize that we need to heal within before we lead, and also see where we have been selfish and hiding in the lying veil of white- and/or male- and/or class- and/or clannish-based privilege, we can make bigger strides than ever before.
This takes courage, humility, forgiveness, perseverance, bold action, and surrender to what must be done in a time that depends on us if there is to be any chance. Each of us has unique ways to do this, both separately and together.
May we each be able to step forward and act in ways that honor and respect the reality and truth of our love, heart, spirit, diversity, interdependence and greater vision for health, balance, peace, happiness and equity for all.
May we remember that to tear down one being (human/animal/resource) to build up another is never a path to greater peace or healthy lives or hearts. May our ideals intersect with our compassionate action as well as our awareness of varying levels of privilege and injustice, and mindless consumption vs mindful living.
Finally, may our compassionate actions unite in ways that those who feed and perpetuate destruction, greed, and abuse of power and control could never anticipate nor overcome.
Image via Wikimedia Commons public domain, photo source Voice of America, quote from Percy Shelley’s “Masque of Anarchy.”