The World We Are Transforming
With Compassionate Activism, we bring love and justice into our everyday relationship with ourselves and with others. As this practice of Compassionate Activism spreads and reaches a tipping point, we envision an equitable society where we all have what we need to flourish - a world filled with people equipped to nurture families and friendships, develop work environments and industries, and create laws and policies in ways that are grounded in love and justice.
While we all have the power to create love and justice in every moment of our lives, most of us have never been taught how to do so or even know it is possible. All of us are always doing our best. Yet due to systemic oppression and trauma, our best is often harmful to ourselves and others and can also perpetuate the very dominating dynamics that we seek to eradicate.
In response to our individual and collective trauma, we understandably harden ourselves for our own self-protection. However, this leads to us becoming disconnected from our own pain as well as dehumanizing those have hurt us or may hurt us in the future.
So we end up reacting to unjust situations based on our trauma - whether it be a micro-aggression, discrimination, exploitation, or violence. On one hand, our anti-oppression analysis helps us understand our traumatic response to what is happening. We can see how despite such behavior being socially acceptable and normalized, it i harmful and a perpetuation of systemic oppression.
On the other hand, such situations are so emotionally charged for us that we are not free to respond appropriately to the specific situation at hand. Instead we react automatically from our individual and collective traumatic history and our understanding of the impact and implications of such behavior on our lives and on our own communities.
Since we are reacting from our trauma, such situations usually serve only to reinforce our trauma. This leads to an even greater emotional toll on us and thus an even greater desire to disconnect from our own pain and those causing it.
And this shows up over and over again with what conversations and people we are not willing to engage with because it's too emotionally difficult. Yet without engaging in these conversations with even ourselves, we are limited in our ability to heal ourselves as well as the brokenness in our society that is caused by systemic oppression.
Through the model and practices offered by Compassionate Activism, we are better equipped to heal the pain and suffering within ourselves and therefore increase our ability to create a more loving, just world. In this way, instead of being a way of reinforcing our traumas, our activism instead becomes a vehicle for healing as we work to transform institutions that perpetuate structural oppression.
As our ability to be compassionate toward ourselves grows, our capacity to be compassionate toward those with unconscious privilege and internalized oppression also grows. Then we can more readily and fully invite them to join us in dismantling systemic oppression based on our shared humanity.
For our personal and social liberation are bound together. We can only become fully free when we become free together.
Our Ten Guiding Beliefs
To help guide our path to creating a more loving, just world - in every moment and starting with ourselves, we believe in the following:
1. We are naturally whole people and are originally one with others. However, we lose touch with that truth when we face overwhelming pain and fear, especially when related to systemic oppression. It makes us feel helpless in the face of other people, including whole communities of unknown people.
2. When we feel pain, we can choose to respond with fear or compassion. If we choose fear, we disconnect from ourselves and others. If we choose compassion, we reconnect to ourselves and others. And while fear and disconnection are lessons we've all learned very well in our oppressive society, most of us still need to be taught how to choose compassion and reconnection.
3. Systemic oppression is traumatic for all involved, from the privileged to the marginalized, though in varying degrees and in different ways. We have all been bombarded with the same toxic lies and struggle to free ourselves from our unconscious conditioning. So it's important to approach these conversations in ways that acknolwedge the trauma and how we have dissociated from it in order to cope and survive.
4. To change the world, we need to first begin with ourselves and the emotional reality we create for ourselves in each and every moment. We do not need to wait for the entire world to change before we change the world we experience every day. And when we change our internal world, we are better equipped to change our external world.
5. We can only give to others what we have given already to ourselves. So when we feel pain, focusing entirely and immediately on the other person is not helpful. We need to first take care of our own pain to a certain degree before we are capable of appropriately addressing the other person. We do not need to be 'completely healed' in order to be loving and peace but we do need to be willing to consider XX.
6. No one is better than anyone else, including those who are more socially conscious compared to those who are not. While our frustration at people who are less socially conscious and are unconsciously causing harm is understandable. this belief that we are better than others is elitist and dehumanizing, disconnects us from each other, and interferes with our ability to be compassionate toward others. We have all been taught the lies of systemic oppression and struggle under the trauma of them. Those of us who have healed more and are more free from them can support those who haven't by shifting the focus from what they are not doing to exploring what do they need to do better.
7. Anger in the face of unjust situations is important reaction to help us break the normalization of everyday oppression and they are also toxic for us to hold on to in the long-run. They serve as critical red flags indicating that there is some pain present within us that need our caring attention. At the same time, when anger and frustration overwhelm and swirl unchecked within us for extended periods, they will have a toxic impact on our emotional well-being and impede our ability to respond appropriately to situations.
8. Focusing on transforming the situation at hand moves us away from the overwhelming and daunting goal of changing systemic oppression and toward the realistic and possible goal of transforming institutions and groups of people - through one situation and one person at time until we reach a tipping point. we need to focus on transforming our institutions through both bottom-up and top-down. Our energies are contagious and the energy we generate and put out in the world is what spreads around us - whether that's anger or love. Our society is transformed as more and more groups of people - families, friend circles, workplace and across local, state, national, and international lines - create the world we want to live through the relationships we have.
9. Love and justice need each other in order to be truly love and justice. Love without justice can often become silencing of those being marginalized and coddling and enabling of those in power. Whereas justice without love can perpetuate the dynamics of dehumanization, domination, and elitism that it's seeking to correct. We can speak truth to ourselves and others so that we make amends and do better and we can do so without making anyone wrong as a human being.
10. We can be the person we dream of being because that is who we were meant to be in this world. We were born naturally whole and connected to a world that was loving to us. While we may have been torn away from that truth, we can heal ourselves and bring ourselves back to it. And when we heal ourselves, we make it that much easier for the next generation to grow up feeling whole and loved.
We can only decide what we will do but we cannot decide what others will do. At best we can invite them, at worse we coerce them. We can also choose to not-cooperate with them.
Systemic oppression versus individual situations with people around us
Explain what peace and shared humanity are Mindfulness increase space in between for choice and peace
Model of Compassionate Activism
Compassionate Activism is designed to build the capacity of individuals and groups to assess and respond to situations of injustice and marginalization with with peace and relatedness.
By maintaining our peace and relatedness, we are more able to be compassionate toward ourselves and the other people in order to heal the pain and trauma we experience. We are also able to more appropriately respond to the specific situation at hand while bringing in our anti-oppression analysis but without the emotional charge that usually comes along with it.
[INSERT IMAGE of 100% Committed, 100% Accepting, and In Community}
The Compassionate Activism model brings together 3 orientations:
- 100% Accepting of the Reality We Currently Live In: As activists, we see the harm that systemic oppression causes in our world and want to change it obviously. This easily leads us to get stuck on how we wish it was different. While understandable, this actually interferes with our ability to work with our current reality because it is focused on what is not real. What is more empowering is to accept the reality of the situation as it is and as it is not. This doesn't mean we like it, believe it to be right, or want it to stay the same. It just means we stay focused on what actually is happening.
- 100% Committed to the Understanding We Want To Create: When we want to transform a situation of , we need to offer a vision to replace it with. This vision shows us how we need to be in our interactions in order to create that reality and inspires us to manifest that energy - whether that be one of reconnection, understanding, empathy, support, humanity, etc.
- Doing the Work In Community - Thi
The Five Practices of Compassionate Activism
When we find ourselves in situations where an injustice or marginalization is occurring - whether we ourselves are doing it or someone is doing it to us or others around us, it can be incredibly difficult to remain at peace and related to ourselves and others. Yet that is what will help us have the clearest perspective and respond in the most appropriate way.
These five practices can help us approach these situations with love and justice. And they are called practices because they are a skill that require repeated practice over time in order for us to become competent at them. It's important to acknolwedge that we are not taught how to do this usually in our society because we will often struggle with our initial attempts to do them in the beginning. However as with all skills, we will become competent in them with practice.
1. The Practice of Humility and Curiosity: When we assume we know "the truth," we shut down all possibility for reality to be any different than what we believe it to be. And normally what we believe "the truth" to be comes from a place of fear and trauma. While it's important to lean on our anti-oppression analysis to better understand problematic dynamics we find ourselves in, it is counterproductive to let our analysis be our entire perspective on the situation. Instead, we can let it inform where we can get curious and begin to ask questions and dig deeper into what's going on within ourselves and for the other person.
2. The Practice of Distinguishing Realities and Owning Your Own Reality:
There is a difference between our own internal reality (emotional reality) vs our external reality (the reality that's actually taking place in the moment). Sometimes we create false assumptions about our external reality based on our past experiences with pain and trauma. But in order to reach the truth we must be able to acknowledge our trauma and accept our own reality-- even if that reality is that we've made up things that don't exist. When you dwell in the make-believe, nothing is workable. You have to focus on what's real to actually change anything about reality. Anytime we engage in something that's not real, the conversation won't go anywhere.
Owning your reality is about knowing that you create your emotional experiences and you have a choice of how to interpret and perceive yourself in this experience. So you can choose how you want to be in it by letting go the story/meaning you're creating.
Yes and can we do X cocreateYes to reality and here's how I choose to respond
3. The Practice of Gentle Mindfulness and Compassionate Self-Accountability: We spend most of our mental energy engaged in being distracted from what is going on within us in the present moment, typically dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Yet our own experience of the present moment is the only reality that exists and focusing on essentially our make-believe world is not useful and will not change our reality - because it's not real. In problematic situations, we often focus on making assumptions about the other person and end up judging and looking down on them. However, underneath that reaction is a pain we have, often in relation to how we see ourselves. We fear opening ourselves up to that pain because it had overwhelmed us in the past when we didn't have the skill to process it in a healthy way. However, we can only begin to heal the pain when we can acknolwedge it.
4. The Practice of Caring Inquiry and Invitational Self-Expression
For justice but not present in the practice name...
compassion leads to empathy to get into their worlds. need their stories to be told. Take responsibility for your own actions and the harmful impact your own perpetuation of the oppressive dynamic
Ask questions that are directed by your anti-oppression anaylsis
unpack the story/lies we were fed that disrespects us and undermines our self-worth
let go of making anyone wrong and believing in their smallness
5. The Practice of Shared Envisioning and Co-Creation
let go of feeling powerless and resigned. Create a shared, inspiring, and strategic vision
we were given a shared story that we're expected to perform and w eneed to give that up and create a new story that affirms our self-worth and acknolwedges the humanity of others. Create an inspiring strategic
- Understand how limiting and even harmful it can be to assume you know exactly what is happening in the situation and with yourself and the other person.
- Let go of blaming, judging, and shaming yourself and/or the other person in order to go deeper into your own experience.
- Access the power that comes from focusing on what is actually happening in reality as opposed to focusing on what you wished was happening instead.
- Create your own subjective reality by changing how you interpret and respond to external reality.
- Give gentle, loving, mindful attention to the pain and fear that is creating the emotional charge for you instead of ignoring them like usual.
- Lovingly restore justice within yourself for the harm you caused yourself by ignoring your own pain and without making yourself wrong in the process.
- Know when you are and are not ready to engage with the other person and to honor your healing process and truth in that moment.
- Share your subjective reality with the other person in order to heal, honor your truth, and if needed, make amends and provide them the same opportunity to do the same for you.
- Hold the space for the other person to share their subjective reality with you and be able to listen fully and deeply to the pain and fear that shaped their actions in that situation.
- Invite the other person to create a new vision of how to be in relationship together based on shared values and from a sense of your shared humanity.
- Choose to not cooperate with people who don't want to cooperate with you and without making them wrong for it or retaliating against them for it.
- Allow yourself to grieve the lost opportunity for reconnection and wish for them to heal more so they can become more conscious and be the person they dream of being.
- Be present to the current situation at hand and create the world you want to live in right in that moment, in that relationship with yourself, and in that relationship with the other person.