The spiritual community center I go to is currently hosting a series of workshops on Spirituality and Social Justice, which I have found to be a wonderful experience and they have been well received by those who attended them. We shared stories of the intersections of gender, sexuality and skin color, honored trans and black lives lost to violence, allowed space for real grief and healing for people who needed healing the most.
They have also gotten quite a bit of push back from other people involved at the center. Or rather articles posted on our facebook group got push back, since to my knowledge the people most vocal about their opposition to these workshops and articles have never set foot in the workshops and likely didn’t bother to read the articles before screaming that they don’t belong in the space. I feel this push back is unwarranted because no one is forcing those people to attend the workshops or read the posted articles. For those who people who might be reading now, there’s this little thing you can do on facebook posts. You can click “I don’t want to see this” and it will disappear from your news feed
One woman who I haven’t seen in the physical space for at least a year had the very strong opinion that this work doesn’t belong in the group. Since I’m part of the group I was thinking Gee for someone I NEVER see in circle you seem awfully comfortable speaking for me. Interestingly enough I came across this woman’s YouTube channel where in a video talking about her lack of engagement ring from her engagement she talked about child labor in African Diamond mines. Funny that she seems to think Black Lives Matter if those live are safely confined to Africa.
Interstingly enough at least half the attendees at any given workshop were cisgender white people, myself included. And we were never expected to apologize or feel guilty for being white or cisgender. We were simply asked to hold space for People of Color and Queer people who were suffering. I said during a workshop exercise that I care about LGBT issues because being straight did not protect me from homophobia growing up. One reason I will never say the problems of people of color aren’t important is I believe being white will not protect me from anything.
I would ask anyone crying about how uncomfortable you’re being made by these workshops to really examine why you’re uncomfortable and why you don’t want to be exposed to the things that make you feel that way.
I’m Wiccan/Buddhist so a core part of my spiritual practice is to do my best to avoid harming people and to reduce suffering. There is a big difference between genuine suffering and simple anxiety or discomfort, and to me the mere avoidance of discomfort is not conducive to spiritual growth.
I may not be brave enough to actively fight for Justice in this world but I think we should applaud those who do make that work their primary practice.
Further info on social justice in Paganism:
http://crystalblanton.com Author, Social Worker, and Pagan activist (read her books!)
http://tthorncoyle.com Author and activist in the Bay Area