06 April 2011

Navigate Responsibly

Sooo... here I am, two months or so later, a recent convert to the social network site Facebook, and already feeling somewhat overwhelmed.  I signed up reluctantly at the insistence of my son who said that there may be folks out there looking for me…Hmmmm…I’m thinking that maybe I don’t want to be found. Could be an ex out there still holding a flame or a grudge, which I can do without either…but maybe there are a few folks I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with or otherwise have a hard time connecting through other communication methods…Curiosity got the best of me, so with the assistance of my more technophile offspring I gave it a try.

Although my Friend Request box wasn’t flooded with folks from my past (which was both comforting and disheartening, cause why wouldn’t they want to hook up with me; I’m da bomb!) I found myself settling in a community of Facebookers, who, for the most part, were engaged in the kinds of activities and politics that speak to me. These were scholars, activists, and even some spiritual warriors for justice, from various parts of the country posting and informing the social networking society about what’s happening in this and their world, about the activities of justice that they are involved in, and really imbibing me with a re-education that I had moved away from (mostly for mental and spiritual health reasons). Just as I was trying to get out, they pull me back in!


Suddenly I was getting saturated by news and images—the kind of alternative/underground journalism I believe speaks truth to power (about 95% of the time), that's all at once enlightening and empowering…refreshing, maddening—and feeling a kind of righteous anger brewing inside. It felt like a rush of adrenaline; I was exhilarated and impressed by the work and words of my social networking comrades although not surprised by the amount of shit out there needing our attention and proactivity.  I was pumped and ready for action.  My patriotic tendencies have always involved some form of dissent and protest.

I felt a need to re-submerge myself into this crazy scene—one quite honestly that I love to hate, one that is both comfortable and contentious. I wanted to be proactive about the issues that I took to heart without being so consumed that I wouldn’t know when to quit, when to step back and breathe and take care of myself. This is the problem with working in non-profit and doing social justice work, it can suck our souls dry so much so that we only live to work. Unhealthy. Unproductive. Unsustainable.  Yet letting go of my apprehension to become a Facebook subscriber, I discovered an easier way for me to be involved, to change the world one post at a time, while maintaining my sanity and self-care practice. Balance.

On the other hand, I have struggled with the notion that all this stuff, this social, political, cultural baggage can bring about a certain aspect of post-traumatic stress even as I try to remove myself from harm’s way. I realize how easy it is to get lost in this fight for justice and to internalize some of the shit that comes with it. Having read some recent articles about violence against women, for example, I found myself a simmering  pot and close to boiling.  It bothered me to no end that, in the 21st century, brutal acts against women, the level of violence perpetrated against us, the omnipresence of patriarchy, continues to escalate and we often find no redress. And I said to myself "honey, don’t think for a moment that you are removed from this."  And while I find my outlet for this is to write about it, get it out in the open, out of my system, I am left with sweaty armpits and a nasty taste in my mouth that repeats itself in a most stressful way.  Yep, balance is so required.

Thankful to have my practice of yoga and meditation, I still felt like a refugee of some war. My home has become less a safety zone, and more a place that I feel I need to flee from, metaphorically speaking. I am traumatized by the amount of disregard for my humanity…for the inhumanity to my people, to all people without voice or ability to speak to the madness…My personal has gotten even more political. The luggage gets particularly weighty, and I need to check it. I need to unload it, but I need to do it with some level of care and heavy, heavy doses of self-love. So while I am indeed thankful to have found a community, a platform in which I feel somewhat safe (I do know that the provocateurs and saboteurs lurk the internet and spaces like Facebook) to speak my mind, to write from within, and to have the presence of mind—at least most of the time—to know when to step back, take a deep breath and regroup, I want to encourage my comrades, friends, and family to consider the same if you haven’t already. Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty. Be in it to win it. But. Navigate and mobilize responsibly.

No comments: