Question in Action

speak the truth

If I hold a room the way the sparkling statue lady does tonight, book-touring her paleo-pedicure-CrossFit happy meal of neoliberal feminism, how will I use my voice?

I too could propitiate the gods of privilege. I might tug loose one rough thread of the story and call it struggle. Might forget to notice who inhabits the room. And the design of it. How thick the walls. Who cannot breach them.

Will I preen?

Or will I speak truth to power?

Every choice an orientation. Every question an avowal.

Whom does this choice serve? Who benefits? Will this momentary choice chip away at barriers? How, exactly?

Does this choice remake, rearrange, reorient, or reveal a corner of the world in a way that makes the work of marginalized people serve their own empowerment? Their own education? Their own enrichment?

Their own definition of thriving on their own terms?

Does this choice provide tangible, material support? Has that support been identified by the people I claim to serve? Do they want and need this choice?

Will this choice create pathways for those who build the world we inhabit to move into positions of naming, leading, determining, shaping the world of our future?

Does this choice churn up the waters?

Will this choice rattle the frame?

Might this choice get me in trouble? If this choice will not cost me anything, what is its value? How could I ratchet up the scope or impact of the choice so that it undermines the privilege protecting me from trouble? So that it threatens the institutions conferring privilege?

Will this choice open itself up to public scrutiny and argument? Does this choice strategically distract attention onto me in order to clear the way for marginalized people to get on with their work? Does this choice recognize the tendency for such strategic distraction to morph into opportunism? Does this choice have a mechanism for checking my hunger for attention? For buffering certainty, for repairing the damage from mistakes, for making course corrections?

Does this choice confuse me?

Does this confusion generate reflection and accountability? Does this choice move forward against the inertia produced by uncertainty? Does it swim against the strong undercurrent of the authoritarian myth, the one that tries pull all things back into imbalance?

Does this choice recognize that my sense of entitlement will try to undermine the endgame of racial equity and social justice?

Does this choice return again and again, as many times as it takes, to a commitment to radical love?

Does this choice serve the emergence of an inclusive vision for our common future? Does this choice cultivate relationships of shared, creative power among my neighbors on this planet?

If I hold a room the way the sparkling statue lady does tonight, how will I use that moment to amplify a shared voice? How will I bring collective action to life?

And what will it take to find that room?


 

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11 thoughts on “Question in Action”

  1. afraid there is no new secret method that will bring people out of their silos/tribes and into a new communal mindset, but we badly need new ways of staying human(e) in the midst of these post modern collapses and I appreciate you sharing your experiences and reflections.
    [audio src="https://media.sas.upenn.edu/pennsound/authors/OSullivan/10-5-11/O-Sullivan-Maggie_Excerpt-all-origins-are-lonely_Poetry-Project_NYC_10-5-11.mp3" /]

    1. That absence of a secret method, as you call it, can be really difficult to accept. I think many of us want to believe that someone somewhere know what to do, and we will eventually get around to following their lead. It’s much more of a challenge to realize that it’s up to us — together or apart — to make the world.

      1. absolutely, even tho I know it I still find myself falling into trying to fix things beyond my immediate control, sadly/painfully tho it doesn’t take too long with any particular cause/organization or another to see the futility, the problems are truly “wicked” and our collective capacities so painfully limited, I’d love to be proven wrong but in the meantime I’m just trying to find ways to cope day to day with such tragic limits that hurt less and where I don’t take it all out on others, this toxic stuff tends to leak thru despite my best intentions and efforts (and I can only imagine the pressures/concerns of parenting under such circumstances).
        maybe we can start a support group for recovering fixers/saviors, feel free to drop me an email.

  2. Your reflections brought me to tears. They reflect the challenges we face as individuals to become the change we seek for a more just and equal world. As you note, to take the necessary steps forward could involve personal risks and create a storm in our lives.

    As individuals, we don’t need a room to bring collective action to life. We need only to cross the bridge or break through the wall that separates us from the Other. In narrowing the spaces between us, our “room” can expand in unexpected ways.

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