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via “Disability Justice” is Simply Another Term for Love

This was the opening keynote speech at the 2018 Disability Intersectionality Summit, in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Oct 13, 2018. The official video recording of this keynote can be found here

I met Mia while at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s one of my favorite people.

Good morning everyone. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you to the organizers of this—I know it takes an incredible amount of work to put something like this on. And it is often the kind of work that happens behind the scenes and goes unnoticed. Thank you so much for all you’ve done. And I want to extend special thanks to Sandy,who’s been in contact with me—thank you.

 

In addition to the beautiful acknowledgement of the land and indigenous people we had today, I also want to extend gratitude to the people who clean and care for this building. The people who mop and vacuum the floors, clean the toilets, take out the trash and maintain the grounds. The people who built this building and all those who have been displaced from where we are as well.

 

When I started out doing disability justice work, before it was even called “disability justice,” these spaces were so rare. I want people to not take this space for granted because so many disabled people would kill to be here and so many people don’t have access to this type of space. And I know that for a lot of us, this I our political work, this is our life and we seek out these spaces, we create them. I want us to keep remembering that so many folks will never have access to these spaces and how do we keep reminding our selves of who is not in the room? All the different people who are not here.

 

And I know there are brilliant workshops scheduled for today. Workshops that will break down the connections between disability and prisons and immigration and race and gender and sexuality and dance and activism and so much more. I know the analysis will be brilliant and much needed.

 

And I found as I was typing away at my computer, the things that were coming up were not only analysis, but also story and feeling; longing and love for all of you and how precious it is to be here together, even just for a day. To be in a space where we can center disabled people of color, disabled queer and trans folks. To be in a cross-disability space and how rare that is too. Analysis, of course, but heart and breathe and body, too.

 

Because I want to express gratitude for this space—a space to hold disability and intersectionality, a disability justice space—because for decades of my life I didn’t have any spaces like this. I didn’t even have conversations that could hold this. I didn’t have people in my life who I could talk to about these things. And it would have meant the world to me to have a space to talk about how disability, race, gender, adoption, survivorship, violence, cure, queerness and so much more connected and collided in my life, as a disabled child who had no one to talk to about my own lived experience. Who had no one who could support me as I navigated the medical industrial complex on my own as a disabled girl korean transracial and transnational adoptee, surrounded by white abled adults and doctors, nurses and practitioners who often didn’t talk to me about what was happening, except to tell me what a “good patient” I was.

 

As I was preparing my remarks for today, I realized that there was a deep sadness that kept bubbling up in me. A deep longing and aching for what I wish I had had and grief for all I never had. A grief for all the other disabled kids and youth out there who are also so very isolated and the disabled people who would give anything to be able to have this kind of space—many of whom don’t know that these kinds of spaces even exist. Who are surviving, isolated in their families or communities and don’t know that we are gathering here today—that people have been gathering like this.

 

Because that was definitely me. I didn’t know. I was so isolated. I was so alone. And I know that so many of us can relate to that.

 

Because that is often what happens: when we start to connect with our dreams and our visions and our longings, we often tap into our grief and our sadness; our heartbreak and sorrow for what we never had. For the ways we wished our lives could have been. For the spaces we wish existed. For all that still is not.

 

I wish someone had been there to talk about disability in a complex and nuanced way—to be able to hold (what we now call) disability justice. I wish I had known that there was so much more out there, especially during the hardest times; especially when I was inside the medical industrial complex experiencing so much violence. Especially on those mornings when my blisters were still raw from the days and weeks before, but I was forced to put on my painful brace. A brace that didn’t need to be whole, but others needed me to wear so that I could be “the right kind of disabled child.” One who they needed to be seen as trying to be as abled as possible, trying to fix myself and my walk and my body to be something other than I was. Something other than I am.

 

Someone who now stands here after all the surgeries and the braces and the physical therapy and the forced healing, just as disabled as I was then. Because the cure didn’t work—as I knew it wouldn’t. It didn’t take, even though they really tried.

 

I think our stories are powerful and magnificent; and I hope you all will be able to share some of your stories here with each other because our lives so clearly encapsulate why we so desperately need these kinds of spaces. Our lives are illustrations of disability and intersectionality and there is a wealth of knowledge there for us to learn from and use.

 

And for so many of us, if we don’t tell our stories, who will? If we can’t share our stories with each other, whom can we share them with?

 

I often think about all the things needed to hold my story, just to name a few: someone who understands disability, ableism, abled supremacy; the medical industrial complex, histories and notions of cure, ugliness and the myth of beauty; race, white supremacy, orientalism, adoption, transracial adoption, transnational adoption, the commodification and ownership of children, immigration, forced migration; korea, diaspora, US imperialism, war, borders; the Caribbean, colonization, the US South, anti-black racism, slavery and the US slave trade system; misogyny, patriarchy, sexism, gender, domestic and sexual violence, child sexual abuse; feminism, queerness, queer people of color; rural lands, islands, rural communities. And how all of these intersect with each other.

 

I wonder what the things needed to hold your stories are? I wonder how many pieces of your story weren’t told because there wasn’t anyone who could understand and hold them? I wonder how many parts of all of our stories that we still have never told anyone because of this?

 

My story is just as much a story about korean adoptees and korea, as it is a story about disability, as it is a story about feminism and queerness and growing up on a rural island outside of the U.S. mainland.

 

A part of this symposium is not only revealing the connections of different systems of oppression, trauma and violence with disability; but also the connection of all of these things within our selves and our lives and refusing to cut ourselves and our stories up. Refusing to tell partial stories for other people’s convenience. Refusing to separate our work for the comfort of others.

 

Because this space should not be rare—this should be the norm. It should not be that we have to leave mainstream disability spaces (or even alternative disability spaces) to be able to be our full selves and have whole conversations—about our own lives. It shouldn’t be that we have to leave racial justice and people of color spaces to be able to fully name and examine how abled supremacy and white supremacy work hand-in-hand to oppress and target disabled people of color and all people of color at large. It shouldn’t be that we have to leave queer and feminist spaces to be able to talk about how gender oppression and ableism have deeply intertwined roots. And why it is just as important to abolish the gender binary, as it is to abolish abled supremacy.

 

It shouldn’t be that we have to go to the margins of the margins of the margins of the margins. And don’t get me wrong; I love living out there. There are amazing things and people out there. And it shouldn’t be that that’s the only place where we can be whole.

 

It shouldn’t be that we have to hold our tongues or risk backlash or be met with empty silence just to be able to talk about our own realities and the realities of our communities. Just to be able to talk about our own lives.

 

This is also a part of the isolation we face everyday.

 

In all of our sharp intersectional analysis, we must locate ourselves, our stories and where our lives live in all of their complexities: privilege, oppression, how we have been harmed and how we have been complicit in harm. None of here are innocent.

 

I think of this as a kind of access—liberatory access, that is. Because it is not enough to just make sure that we can get into the room or that the conversation is translated or that we can access the materials. And it is not enough for us to simply get to share what’s important to us (though I know that many times we don’t even get to share that), if no one knows how to hold what we are sharing; if no one knows how to understand and fully engage with what we are sharing. How many times have we been in rooms and shared our truths, only to be met with backlash, avoidance or blank faces and awkward silence because people have not done their own work to educate themselves to be able to meet us? Whether it is in white spaces, abled spaces, hearing spaces, neurotypical spaces? How many times has the conversation continued on as if we never shared at all?

 

I don’t just want technical and logistical access. I don’t just want inclusion, I want liberatory access and access intimacy. I want us to not only be able to be part of spaces, but for us to be able to fully engage in spaces. I don’t just want us to get a seat at someone else’s table, I want us to be able to build something more magnificent than a table, togetherwith our accomplices. I want us to be able to be understood and to be able to take part in principled struggle together—to be able to be human together. Not just placated or politely listened to.

 

I want this for us and I also want this from us. Because the moment we acknowledge intersectionality, it also means we must acknowledge and face ourselves. Because even within this room and out there on the live stream, there are many, many differences between us and between those that aren’t able to join us here. Some of us are immigrants, some of us are not; some of us are survivors of sexual violence, some of us are not. Some of us benefit from light skinned privilege and/or white passing privilege, some of us do not. Some of us benefit from anti-black racism, or hearing supremacy or a world built for cis people. I want us to do our work so that when people whose oppression benefits us, share their truths or their questions, we can meet them in those conversations. We can join them in principled struggle in conversations about activism, strategy, action, accountability and justice.

 

These kind of spaces (like the one we’re in today) often feel like tiny oases  in the middle of a desert, and that is real. And I would also like to offer that they can also serve as a microcosm of the world in which we currently exist and to think of them as any “safer” than anywhere else is an illusion. I would like to offer that multiple truths can exist and that one does not negate the other. This space can be both a welcomed respite from the unrelenting storm we are usually in andboth/and—it can also be a storm as well.

 

When I say “liberatory access,” I mean access that is more than simply having a ramp or being scent free or providing captions. Access for the sake of access or inclusion is not necessarily liberatory, but access done in the service of love, justice, connection and community is liberatory and has the power to transform. I want us to think beyond just knowing the “right things to say” and be able to truly engage. I want us to not only make sure things are accessible, but also work to transform the conditions that created that inaccessibility in the first place. To not only meet the immediate needs of access—whether that is access to spaces, or access to education and resources, or access to dignity and agency—but also work to make sure that the inaccessibility doesn’t happen again.

 

(This is also at the crux of transformative justice work I’m a part of: you work to not only address the harm and the immediate needs the harm created, but you also make sure that the harm does not happen again and that you are working to transform the conditions that allowed the harm to happen in the first place.)

 

Because, as we integrate disability justice into our political work more and more—as we grow it and cultivate it—we must also be mindful that it is not an easy fix, and if anything, disability justice will require us to work harder and dig deeper. Disability justice should not only be about our analysis and political work, but it should also encompass how we do our work and how we treat each other, as fellow disabled people with multiple oppressed identities and experiences. Because I know I am not alone when I say that some of my deepest wounds have come from other disabled people. I know I am not alone when I say that sometimes we can treat each other in more painful ways than those outside of our community have treated us.

 

As we work to change the world, we must also work to change ourselves. And we must support each other in that change. Ableism and other systems of oppression and violence have left their mark on us. We can’t, on the one hand, understand how devastating capitalism, misogyny and criminalization are and then on the other hand, pretend as if they don’t affect how we treat each other and ourselves. Because most of us treat ourselves in ways that we would never treat anyone else. Most of us are in an abusive relationship with ourselves and that helps to lay the groundwork for abuse in the world.

 

Because no matter how on-point our analysis is, if we can’t treat each other well, our work will not get far. Because the systems we are up against will require collective work—if we could have changed them on our own, we would have already done it—and collective work requires that we are in relationship with each other in some way shape or form.

 

It is always so amazing to me that disabled people, who are so incredibly isolated and exiled, will also isolate and exile each other. And I know most of us have been on both sides of this.

 

Now, I am not saying that we all have to be besties with each other or that people don’t need to be accountable for their actions and/or harm they have done—they absolutely do. What I’m saying is that disability justice requires us to understand intersectionality, and intersectionality requires that we learn how to hold and value difference and contradictions. (e.g. you can be both oppressed and privileged by the same identity. You can have survived harm and do harm. These are contradictions that we all hold. I’m sure that all of us have been harmed in this room and all of us have either harmed or participated in harm or looked away from harm in some way shape or form. Whether it’s via our privilege or whatever else it may be.) What I’m saying is that it is not only “those people out there” who need to change, but it is “us in here” as well. What I am saying is that isolation, exclusion and erasure has been destructively wielded against us and our communities, so why would we want to wield them against each other?

 

Because I would argue that “disability justice” is simply another term for love. And so is “solidarity,” “access,” and “access intimacy.” I would argue that our work for liberation is simply a practice of love—one of the deepest and most profound there is. And the creation of this space is an act of love.

 

And if we can’t love each other and ourselves, then what good is any of our work to get free? If we can’t reach out to break isolation and the walls we’ve put up between each other, as disabled people, then we will have already lost before we’ve won any political battle. What good is it if we can wage amazing campaigns, if we all end up hating each other in the end? If we can’t practice addressing the hard things between each other, then how will we ever have a fighting chance to address the hard things in this world that keep our peoples locked up and locked out?

 

We have to work to transform the world, but we can only do that effectively if we can work to transform ourselves and our relationships with each other at the same time. Because our work depends on us and our relationships with each other. And if anyone is worth it, it is us and the generations of disabled children and people coming after us. We have a responsibility to leave them a legacy worth fighting for. To leave them powerful stories of not only how we were able to shut down prisons and I.C.E., but also how we were able to come through harm together, for the better. How we were able to make amends with our disabled kin and heal together. One of the greatest ways to resist abled supremacy is by loving each other. How we were able to practice transformative love together in the face of fear, isolation and heartbreak. And I know that there’s a lot of heartbreak.

 

This is how we practice interdependenceThis is how we practice trust and belonging and hope. This is how we practice disability justice in its most powerful and magnificent potential.

 

So, I hope you all have a wonderful symposium and thank you so much for having me.

Disability Justice, by Mia Mingus

The Poop Loop!

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Since turning 35 and giving Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for Peace’s annual lecture on nonviolence, religion, and peace, I’ve plunged deep into the global conversation on sanitation (or lack thereof). This conversation is connected to everything I’ve done in the past…work with social justice movements, intersectional peace studies, community health & wellness, nonviolent direct action campaigning, and my ministerial training.

But it is also unique.

All my education and experiences have prepared me to engage this specific topic: the defecatory justice movement is where I plan to focus much of my life’s energy in the next decades!*

The heart of my work in the area is to redefine “waste” as a resource. It can be if we treat it well and return it to the source. SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) in Haiti is doing just that. I’m here learning from them, and their perspectives on liberation ecology. Here is their diagram:

SOIL's Poop Loop

The area of sanitation is one neglected place where I believe the violence of the interlocking systems of oppression is unseen and routine. You have the lack of adequate facilities for 2.5 billion people on one hand, and on the other, an excess, the practice of urination and defecation in fresh water in the global north. Unless you are using a waterless toilet, closed-loop system, or composting-toilet of us participate daily in perpetuating this crisis. Outdated sewage systems are being exposed, and ecological solutions are being revealed, but why isn’t there as much conversation about it as other needs on Maslow’s lowest rung—food, water, air, etc.?

The reason we don’t talk about sanitation is because it’s taboo to talk about poop. From little on up we are told not to use “bathroom words” in the formal western public, as it creates discomfort because it’s not considered polite.  English doesn’t even have a neutral word to use to describe the nutrients and leftovers that come out of the body. The word “poo” is childish, “shit” offends people (though the word has noble roots), and “feces” and “excrement” are too scientific for a normal conversation. Our politeness conventions have gotten us stuck in not talking about it, thereby blocking new ideas from being shared in discourse at every level of society where innovation could be happening. I believe that our social movements, institutions, organizations, etc. are just like in our bowels, when something is stuck, it is not good. We need to get the flow going to be healthy.

SOIL in Haiti

Global North city & state architecture is designed to facilitate separation from the extreme consequences of our mundane actions by the push of a button, the jiggle of a handle, or the click of a mouse. 

Me and many of my pals know in our bones that we cannot keep up business as usual, the Earth is breaking down and busting out under the weight of our militarized systems that enshrine endless growth and protect corporate profit over the lives of masses and other-than-human species with whom we share this fragile planet. We have to deal with our crap. This is both an internal and external process. In this infinite loop, it is my prayer that we can embrace our humanity and not throw anyone or anything away.

If we think of our daily duty as a “health smoothie for tree roots” then we’ll find ways to design for re-use and sanitation in ways that do not compromise the health of our neighbors and future generations.

Any ideas, reflections, jokes, or anecdotes you have on the topic of sustainable sanitation are welcome.

 

Filming Welele & Samba Zao.jpg

*What is the meaning of defecatory justice, you ask? It is indeed a word I made up (cuz being an academic I’m supposed to do that, it surfaced as a term while sitting with friends and being hilarious and sparkly in Berkeley, California on St. Valentine’s day in 2017). I’ve toyed with it since then and now I am publishing said word, so I have a record of when it all started. From now on I’ll toy with it some more. In a nutshell, defecatory justice is my thinking about how nearly everyone needs to make an adjustment to what they are doing, in order to move forward together as humanity. We need to make different adjustments in how we defecate, understand “waste,” and challenge taboos. Some of us need to reduce water usage, others must find ways to release that prevent disease-spread, and all of us can continue to reflect on ourselves in relation to the other members of the ecosystem we’re in. I’m planning to pursue this via doctoral work at place where my theological scholar-activism can continue.

Presenting the Nahar Family

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Nahar_2“Peace is flowing like a river,
flowing out of you and me!
Flowing out into the desert,
setting all the captives free!”

Confluence: (noun): flowing or running together so as to form one. The graphic to the side illustrates the flowing family names of our immediate tributaries running into our Nahar river.
Nahar means river in Arabic (نهر), as well as in Hebrew (נהר).

 

We want to mark this significant decision to combine our lives by growing together into a name that emerged through prayer and joyful discernment. Once we married, we changed our last names from Brenneman and Thompson, respectively, to Nahar. Some explanation:

The Jordan River, and all the fresh flowing waters of the world, are important to us. From Palestine to Standing Rock we’ve experienced how water is life. While living in Elkhart (a city where two rivers come together making a heart-shaped island) we noticed how the riverbanks provide unique ecosystems where life-on-the-border flourishes.

As border-walkers both, our lives are full of fording many metaphorical rivers in service to connecting communities and bridging different perspectives. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s good to go with the flow, and other times it’s important to swim against the current.

In our partnership we have helped each other discern how to navigate troubled waters. We have reached out for help when we were drifting or drowning. Time and time again we found willing arms of support from each other and branches from our mentors to hang on to, anchored by faith in a God who is with us in the storm and brings us back to solid ground.

There are many who have gone before us in the river of life and we are grateful for the how they have poured into us, and prayed for us.

On a warming planet, we pray for a world refreshed by cool water.
For a thirsty land, we pray for the re-hydration of ecosystems and people.
In a dammed world, we pray for release of the floodgates of compassion…so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an mighty stream (Amos 5:24).

Every time we speak our last name we wish to remind ourselves of these prayers, our vast lineages, our commitment to each other, and our life’s work.

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A view of the globe that features our predominant ancestries in Africa, Europe, and western Asia/Middle East

Thanks for being part of our lives! Catch the Livestream of the sacred vows ceremony here! We are grateful to Moriel, Kayla, and baby Nahar for piquing our awareness to this word, with such deep meaning.

I backdated the post to the first day of the wedding, which occurred the entire weekend between the International Day of Peace and the Autumn Equinox, Sept 21-23, 2018.

Conflict Literacy

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Conflict Literacy

We need movements resilient enough to navigate the inevitable conflicts that arise when diverse people and perspectives come together to take on the daunting work of ushering in a better future.

Check out this website! It is the beginning of building a resource for have more generative conflicts, inviting us in with questions we can ponder:

  • What are your attitudes and beliefs about conflict?
  • How much stronger could our movements be if we learned how to deal with conflict?
  • What if conflict did not have to slow down our momentum?

I’ve been blessed to have the chance to work alongside an amazing group of people who are building on everything the conflict resolution/transformation/mediation/escalation field(s) have been doing for ages…making it relevant for this generation of change-makers

Conflict Literacy is the idea that if we can read the contours of a conflict, in context, then we’ll be able to assess what’s going on with greater skill, reflect deeply, respond with integrity and power, learn from the situation as we practice disagreeing without dehumanizing.

Conflict can flatten people – they can become a single identity, a single position.  Our work is to ask each other questions, check our assumptions, move toward complexity, give people the opportunity to be known for the many parts of themselves and all that they care about. This is part of living out the fullness of our diversity.   -John Sarrouf, Essential Partners

Amen to that! I know I’ve been flattened before. And have flattened others. As we pop and stretch back into our powerful, curvy, asymmetrical shapes, the Conflict Transformation Fund is here to help with grants to seed and spark the progressive movement’s appetite to get better at addressing conflict!

We don’t need to be down on ourselves if we feel like we’re in more conflicts. There are higher amounts of interaction between people, in multiple venues, than ever before. And more people alive due to nonviolent efforts to reduce conflict “resolution” through violence, means there are more people around to still have conflicts with! While the typical post-1880 (telephone era) face to face interaction has gone down, other types of interaction have increased. Barber shops & beauty salons, internet verbal, internet visual, internet forums, in-person public, spiritual, conferences, conference verbal calls, blogs, conference video calls, webinars, televangelism/TV broadcasts reach far because of cable, newspapers (I can get the Chicago Sun-Times here though I’m not in Chicago). So many places for there to be potential conflict. But fear not! Lean in!

Here are the current 10 core competencies to help us out…developed in conversation with over two dozen diverse scholar-practitioners in this field. I’ve really found them useful, let me know if you do too, or if you have suggestions/feedback!

Time to Wake Up! Guest post by Sue Park-Hur

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Sue Park-Hur is the new denominational minister for Leadership Development for Mennonite Church USA. She is is a good friend, and I am excited for her to be in this position of authority. She wrote a piece for our church community today, and I asked her if I could share it with you.  Los Angeles also taught me a lot; it was a very meaningful place to participate in creative activism.

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. (Romans 13:11)

Last Thursday (June 21, 2018), I drove my 16-year-old daughter and three of her close friends to a park in Los Angeles. As expected, it was hard to find a parking spot near Alvarado St. and Wilshire Blvd., but we finally found a metered parking space seve

ral blocks away. As we were walking towards the park, we were joined by two young men heading the same direction, pulling what I thought was a large cart. Upon closer look, I saw that it was actually three large animal cages piled on top of another. Inside the cages were children’s toys — broken and dismembered. Foam alphabet mats were glued to the side of the cages spelling, “Kids deserve better.” My heart sank, but my steps quickened towards the park.

When we got to MacArthur Park, a crowd of about two  hundred people had already formed. Huge banners waved that said, “Families belong together.” Smaller posters read, “Children don’t belong in cages,” “Resistencia Migrante,” and “No child detention centers.” We heard speakers share pain and anger about ICE raids separating their own families and the trauma experienced in their communities. After each speaker, we responded by chanting, “familias unidas, no dividas” with tears and conviction that forced separation of families at the border is cruel and immoral.

When I heard a rally was being organized, not only did I feel compelled to attend, I wanted to bring my daughter and her friends who were planning to meet up in Koreatown just a few miles away. Knowing that these young women were frustrated at what they heard on the news of family separations, I thought that this rally could be an opportunity for them to meet people who are affected by these unjust laws instead of treating family separation as an issue to be debated.

Many people know that Los Angeles is a very diverse city including large numbers of immigrants. However, many of us live in silos, insulated pockets in the city surrounded by people like us. Koreatown is located just a few miles from MacArthur Park, but we hardly see any Korean faces in this park because most of the people using it are Latinx. It was important to me that my daughter and her friends knew that the park is only a few miles away from my h

usband’s office, to make the connection for them. This part of the city is part of our community. And those who gathered in the park are our neighbors. They are mourning the trauma and protesting the injustice that they’ve experienced.

We are to mourn with those who are mourning and stand in solidarity with those who have experienced injustice.

After the rally, one of my daughter’s friends asked if we could debrief what we experienced. This was the first protest she attended and she had a lot of questions. We sat down over strawberry shaved ice and talked about what we saw and why what is happening at the border should matter to us as Korean Americans.  One of the girls mentioned that Korea ha

s a history of Korean orphans who have been adopted abroad. The Korean War tore families apart and the pain of lost families and identity are with us still. I also added that for the past 70 years, many South Korean families have been separated from their families in North Korea. Since the Korean War was never officially over because a peace treaty was never signed, South Korean families cannot make direct contact with their relatives living in North Korea. The deep pain rooted in the loss of family connections and the inherited trauma of the war impacts Korean American

families and communities even now, and we carry the scars knowingly and unknowingly.

korean war orphans
This photo of two Korean War orphans haunts me.

Family separation is not someone else’s problem; it is one that must matter to us because it is also part of our story.

The discussion with the girls deepened as we sat down for some spicy beef soup.  What does it mean to be American? What is our relationship to this country we call home? How do we live out our belief that our ultimate allegiance is to God, not to a nation? We are recipients of privilege and contributors to this nation as American citizens, but when American laws contradict God’s laws, we need to speak up. There are over 100 scriptures in the Bible about how we are to treat foreigners or sojourners in the land. God, who has heard the cries of the Israelites and wandered the desert with them reminds us to remember who we are and who we all belong to. We all belong to God and we who are resident aliens have our citizenship in heaven (Acts 7:6).

Recently, Romans 13 has been highlighted on the news. At the end of chapter 13, we are reminded, “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11). It is time to wake up and remind each other who we are and who we belong to.

Original post here: http://mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/time-to-wake-up/

So much going on in the world…

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I’m grateful for those working on the US/Mexico border to end family separation. If you want to send stuff, a friend’s synagogue is collecting:

Please send toiletries, toys and care packages to the border. Send care packages to:

Michael Blum, Social Action Chair
Temple Emanuel
4300 Chai Street (North C Street)

McAllen, Texas 78504

There are also people activating today to seek to make the country a more welcoming place, despite the Supreme Court ruling upholding the “Muslim Ban.” Thank you.

Looking to root causes, I was excited to be a part of one of the Roundtables of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative. Through the leadership of Pope Francis, the Vatican may write an encyclical on nonviolence, imploring Christians to consider the example of Jesus and his constant creative responses to violence with a nonviolent commitment to change and challenging the inequitable power structures. More info here. This is a big deal because it would de-center the Just War theory, and increase knowledge about nonviolent social change tactics worldwide.
Jonathan and I are creating some videos on behalf of Mennonite Church USA to promote these concepts within our communities. Stay tuned for that later in the year…

Right now we’ve been focused on the 21st century’s Poor People’s Campaign:

In their own words: “In the coming months, we will focus on organizing, mobilizing voters and building power among the 140 million Americans living in poverty, particularly in the often-ignored South. Poor and low income people from California to the Carolinas are ignored by politicians from both parties. And even though there are 171 electoral votes from Maryland to Texas, much of the South is ignored in the political calculations made by campaign decision makers around elections.

A movement has to fight for the whole country and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” You can also co-sign a letter to the United Nations to ask the Human Rights Council to convene a hearing about the severity of poverty in the US. Click here to add your name.

 

It was a joy to hang out as mixed Mennos (biracial, multicultural) on Jonathan’s last visit to Atlanta, around the time when we celebrated 51 years since the Loving vs. Virginia case which was a landmark case overruling anti-miscegenation laws. Check out Ryan’s artistic work to lift up interracial partnerships: https://www.rqmphoto.com/

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Mixed Mennos

Overall, I’m still focused on the question of mainstreaming composting toilets. I’m currently learning from SOIL’s approach, in Haiti. Here is a vid that follows the “waste stream” from poop collection to compost.

Also, I’m still doing a lot of training for nonviolent direct action. Next one is in Pennsylvania during the Carnival de Resistance. There is some amazing innovation happening…Ruckus Society and It Takes Roots came together to do an action camp that focused on addressing BOTH natural and political disasters. We must be equipped, and many activists and communities are not. But that is changing. We are learning the old ways, with new tactics. Contact me if you want more info on that goodness.

Letter from Elder

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Letter from Joanna Macy, May 2018

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Dear Family in the Work That Reconnects,

You are all very much in my thoughts these days for this is a critical moment for all life on our planet. It is both heart-shattering and, in its ferocity, promising of what we can become as planet people.  I feel our connections in the Work resonating in me like harp strings.

I’d like to share with you some ways I am finding the Work is helping me respond to the avalanche of bad news as a call to stay both steady and open.

I will go around the spiral.

The emotional challenges of this time require of me to be all the more grateful for the immediacy and sturdiness of Gaia’s gifts.  They flow in moment by moment: the air I breathe, the faces of friends, and my loyal, hardworking old body.

As I open to the pain of our world at this time it really helps me to remember, as we do in the truth mandala, the source, or tantric side, of the intensities of grief, outrage and dread.  Then, each emotional blow actually ignites my realization of the depths of my caring for the world. This caring comes from a deep interconnectedness that unites me with life and opens me to the strengths and insights it can bring.

Also, as I listen to the news–and it matters to listen, please don’t turn away–it helps me to bless the independent journalists that are bringing the news. Love them for the risks that they take to bring us word of what is happening. Thank each person on the information chain that is letting word come to you. And as these currents of information flow through you, don’t feel that you must personally respond to each situation. Don’t fall into that trap of the hyper-individualism of our old culture.  Imagine as you listen that you are allowing the information to cycle and flow through you into wider circuits, enlivening and circulating through the collective intelligence of our time.

Moving further around the spiral. What a sweet moment to be together with other activists, joining them with our hearts and minds and with our hands as well. My granddaughter, Eliza, told me yesterday how she will spend the summer interning with 350.org in Minneapolis. We talked about how beautiful it will be to weave connections with the indigenous people of those northern Minnesota lakes, connections fortified by a common goal. Enbridge wants to bring an oil pipeline through the lakes that have yielded for centuries harvests of wild rice. To work together to protect those waters and the ancient culture of wild rice harvesting will bring solidarity and adventure and respect.

Now coming around to the going forth. I found myself thinking this morning that everything is clearer for us now.  The viciousness and brutality that have always been with us are so obvious now, and although terrifying, they’re right up front for all to see.  Their currency is fear–fear that distorts and deadens the mind. And now it’s clear: love must, and can, triumph over fear. If we’re not up for love yet– and a lot of the time I feel I’m not–we can lean into trust.  That’s something I can do. I can learn to trust, and I’m doing that.

And so, dear hearts,thank you for being here–to trust in and trust with.

Yours Ever,

Joanna

More information on how to get involved with our network: http://www.workthatreconnects.org

My specific work in this network: The Work That Reconnects

Letter for solidarity and inclusion in the Work That Reconnects here!