Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reclaiming Self and Community Care

I was invited to give a presentation on December 11 on the topic of "Reclaiming Self and Community Care: Principles & Practices for Social Change in the Direction of Social Justice." Below are the starting points and principles that I used to introduce and frame some example reflective practices. 

Starting Points: 

1. In a healthy, functioning society, self and community care is integrated into everyday habits, relationships, organizations, and culture. Special actions would not be required except in cases of crisis, trauma, disaster, etc.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Equality: From Principle to Reality

Below is the text of a talk I delivered December 3, 2017, lightly edited. 


For many of us, and perhaps for more and more of us, we live with a familiarity with despair. It's a kind of desperation that silently grows as the injustice around us is heaped like so much kindling, waiting for the spark. We feel it when we hear the news, and we feel it in the experiences of our own lives, when we walk out the door into an unsafe world. It is overwhelming, and has been for a very long time. 

The history of the West, with its complex mix of incredible and awful, is not one thing, despite how our civic myths like to shoehorn every story into a narrative of progress. In reality, this history is also the history of white supremacy, imperialism, and patriarchy. And we are still bearing bad fruit, as recent headlines reveal, through stories of the violent and misogynistic actions of sexual predators (SOURCE), or the late night passage of tax legislation that benefits corporations and the wealthiest 1%.(SOURCE) And, with regard to the latter, we are yet to see what further impact the final form of the tax bill will have on the most vulnerable,(SOURCE) especially since cutting vital social programs is a favorite past time of those in power. Meanwhile, approximately 1,100 people have been killed so far by police in the USA in 2017.(SOURCE) And, according to the FBI, hate crimes continue to be on the rise, with over 6,000 reported cases in the latest numbers from 2016. Of those cases, 58% were motivated by “race, ethnicity, or ancestry”; 21% were based on religion, and 18% were based on sexual orientation.(SOURCE)

We could fill the rest of the day with a litany of these tragedies and injustices, with more than enough sorrow that all of us would feel that creeping desperation, born of grief and rage. But none of this is a surprise; neither is it surprising to say that we humans continue to experience a lot of polarization, growing farther apart. We have a long history to demonstrate how efficient we are in producing new circumstances that fuel those divisions. What we have proven to be less efficient at doing is bringing us together. That’s also not surprising, as it is much easier and faster to destroy than it is to create, to bring death than to nourish life. And yet we have to find ways to keep walking out the door. We have to find ways to live in this very world, while injustice persists, and the water is always at or near boiling. And we have to find ways to do so without either giving up or giving in to the way things are.