It is a New Year in our deeply divided world: Since the start of the pandemic that which divides our human community have been revealed to be more deeply grooved into the fabric of our psyche and way of being in the world than most would have imagined. Race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, class, caste, and economic level are common flash points of trauma in an all-or-nothing playbook in which masks and vaccination cards are symbols of ideological and structural belonging, with reconfigured allegiances that attempt to obscure and deafen screams for breath, equity, and justice. It has been a grueling twenty months; most everyone, or at least most everyone I know, is suffering from some level of exhaustion and/or PTSD. Fatigued from the continuously unfolding revelation of harm and more harm innocuously embedded in daily life has shredded an already tattered fabric of social trust. We are (consciously and unconsciously) displaying symptoms of acute and chronic dis/ease and imbalance. Many of us, already living with untold levels of fear and anxiety, have been upended by 2020 and 2021. We are a world in crisis.
The beginning of this new year makes it tempting to want to surrender to illusive apparitions of safety, spaces were it is imagined that there are clear demarcations between good and bad, right and wrong, and night and day, obvious to anyone with commonsense. But as the saying goes, “commonsense is not so common,” something many have learned hard by witnessing and being impacted by leadership decisions (political, religious, community) in this global crisis of converging pandemics.
From where I sit, it seems that what is needed at this time are more critically discerning minds, hearts, hands, and spirits, capable of engaging nuance and seeing the best of humanity in a crisis ridden world where humanity’s best seems too far from the surface to be recognized. I am not pointing to a type of Pollyanna methodology – though, honestly, if you can make this work against the callousness of the ongoing COVID pandemic and global injustices, I encourage you to go for it if you can manage this without falling into a cesspool of disfunction and delusional fantasies. What I am hinting at here is something closer to the archetypical Mother as a methodology. Such a mother knows that the knee-weakening stench emitting from the bubbly laughing toddler in her proximity is not the sum total of that child’s being. Also, importantly, she also knows that the stench will not clean up itself. For the purposes of this methodology, this mother is a hands-on mother; no nannies. The mother in her essential role as mother learns to smells, and recognizes most intimately the variety of olfactory assaults that can potentially emanate from her toddler. With this knowledge, she cares for the best in her child while critically managing the potential unpleasantness required for the child’s healthy growth, development, and flourishing. This is about justice; a Mother methodology starts with something as small and innocuous as the recognition of a smell, what has been argued to be a human being’s most profound and consistent memory sense. In less than a breath, an olfactory stimulation can transport you whole-bodied back in time – a reminder that history is always and forever alive and active in the present. The olfactory assault emanating from the child is associated with a healthy and efficient human elimination system; hence, the mother’s management of the removal of her child’s waste ensures that this byproduct of living and health does not cause harm. Mother methodology compels the mother towards a critically discerning mind, heart, hands, and spirit. This is a methodology that can be useful for self and community care; for ultimately, care of self -not narcissistic self pandering – is simultaneously also community care and radical political engagement in these times of multiple and converging global crises.
It is 2022. Of the many lessons learned from 2020 and 2021, one is the need for effective methodologies to inform strategies for individual and community wellbeing, understanding that the wellbeing of community informs community understanding and engagement in politics and political action. It is with this that I lean into 2022: Self-care as political action and building political movement as integral to self-care, a mother methodology for Mother Earth and the ongoing convergence of crises across the globe. Attending to the stench of one’s own life – engaging the unpleasantness that emanates from the good and not-so-good of our contemporary existence and to love ourselves and communities Regardless so that we may move mountains, imagine radical peace and flourishing across the globe, and be present in the day-to-day creation of future peace that is planted and watered with well-fought -for justice in the here-and-now.
JOY, JUSTICE, LOVE, and PEACE for 2022