“We are not good despite our imperfections. It is the connection we maintain with our imperfections that allows us to be good. Our connection with our personal and common imperfections, being mindful of those personal and common imperfections is what allows us to be good to each other and be good to ourselves.” – Jay Smooth
One of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard had to do with the Zapatista uprising (EjÃ©rcito Zapatista de LiberaciÃ³n Nacional, EZLN) in Mexico. The Zapatistas, who were fighting against the Federal Mexican Army, had marched on Cuautla and overtaken it, ensuring one of the largest victories for the Zapatistas. Many saw this as a marker for a new age (even though it was six of the most terrible days of battle in the whole Mexican Revolution) and that real change was coming to Mexico. As the Zapatistas celebrated, one of the members of the group looked around at the trash strewn streets, worn from conflict and asked, “Who is going to pick up this garbage?”
It’s a situation that shows that even after the “hard work” is done, which is to say, transforming an incredibly massive system with deeply rooted prejudices and beliefs, there is still work to be done. It’s one that sometimes gets overlooked, not because it isn’t important, but because there is so much that needs to be done, urgent in its overwhelming necessity. But what does the world we envision look like? What do we imagine the world to be?
It’s a bit mind-boggling.
Are we there yet? No. Can we get there? Yes. We definitely can if we want to. How? Well, we start by practicing now.
So what exactly does this look like? It means listening, especially when we are presented with what contradicts our outlook or when we have hurt, as well as not defending others’ actions as threats to ourselves, but as favors for calling us on our blind spots. It means understanding the multitudes of experiences that leave no room for definitive narratives that can easily be condensed into sound bites, ripe for the choosing on whatever cause you want. It means respecting our different lives, even if we find it hard to understand to or relate to, accepting that some truths are difficult and hard to hear but must be heard. It means acknowledging our past, our history, and how it makes our present, and how if we do not change it, it will define our future, no matter how different we intend it to be. It means being mindful and not seeing ourselves as good or bad, right or wrong, but as people who makes choices that fall into categories that can either invigorate or dehumanize. These are our choices. Some days we will be better at making them than others. I know I certainly struggle with this.
So in the midst of this, we have to be good to each other. We owe each other this. Cornel West’s well-quoted words come to mind:
” Justice is what love looks like in public, you can’t talk about loving folk and not fighting for justice.”
This isn’t a new idea. As long as there has always been a group of people fighting for a better world, there have been those imagining what it would look like. Whoever we are and whatever we do to contribute to that better world just piggybacks on a long tradition of this.
And just remember”¦
“You are not anything. You are not even just something. You are EVERYTHING. Act accordingly.” ““ The single woman
So let’s act accordingly.