Stay! Stay! Stay! (Part 2)

June 16, 2010 Leave a comment
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A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about the constructive engagement of conflict – called Stay! Stay! Stay! It was some thinking sparked by reading the beginning of Bernie Mayer‘s new book “Staying with Conflict“. I’ve been reading more of that book this week – and thinking as well about the work IISC is doing to become an anti-racist, anti-oppression, pro-liberation organization. (And yes, we do know that’s a mouthful!)

So part of what Bernie Mayer writes about in his new book is the need to build the adaptive capacity and platforms from which to stay with the tensions and conflicts that are an essential part of the human experience, to engage in a way that brings human dignity and that allows us to really stay in the difference.

What does this have to do with our work to become a liberation organization? I was reflecting on my own journey as a white woman engaging in this work – and the very strong (sometimes overwhelming) tendency I’ve had at times to do something to “fix it” – to want to jump to the answer. As if the incredibly complex, structural issues that are oppression are something that might have a simple way out (and, fully engaging my white privilege – as if I could somehow miraculously figure out what was needed). I’ve come to accept, over time, the need to keep heading in the direction of the north star while staying in the uncomfortable mess that is our historical reality.

So here it is again, the practice of learning to stay with uncertainty, with what’s uncomfortable – and yet, to fully engage in a way that is full of love, bringing human dignity to ourselves and everyone around us, and continuing to take whatever steps we can.

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  • Curtis says:

    Thank you, Linda, for this open and honest reflection. I definitely resonate. Learning how to stay when I don’t have an answer, when I don’t know how exactly to show up, when I don’t know what exactly it means to be a white man in a given situation, when I am uncertain as to whether the expression of my truth may limit someone else’s – such a challenging and worthy discipline.

  • Chris says:

    Yes, thank you, Linda. Your reflection makes me realize that not only do I have to command myself to stay! stay! stay! But also to be quiet! quiet! quiet! All too often I find that if I can get myself to “stay” when I’m feeling uncomfortable, I often begin to ramble from feeling uneasy, taking up all the talking space, which is one of the many ways my white privilege can show up. Perhaps I could seek out a good dog trainer for tips on how to conquer both!

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