Which Way to Zion?

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment


I am honored to be part of a listserv called “The Gamechangers Salon,” there is brilliance and passion in it.  There is also a lot of anger these days, particularly given recent events in Washington.  Following is my recent contribution to the conversation, coincidentally, my colleague Cynthia Silva Parker, just wrapped up her blog series on Power & Privilege with a post on Pursuing – something in the air at IISC!  Here is my post:


Thank you Calvin Williams for bringing up Grace Lee Boggs and the Next American Revolution.  A much more positive approach than my comments about the Titanic!  I’m certainly down to “re-imagine solidarity, transformative organizing and civic engagement for our communities.”  Bob Marley has been playing in my head lately, and he’s been chanting – Holy Mt. Zion – and I have in turn been wondering if we’ve forgotten what freedom is.

You see, I spent two weeks in Haiti in June, and I just became a father a few days ago.  I have gone from depths of despair to the greatest of joys – our little one came two months early so there is a deep vulnerability to it all.  My life has been turned inside out and here I am having to contend with the debacle that passes for politics in the richest and most powerful country in the world.

Whatever Zion is, it does not feel like entitlements and reining in the robber barons is quite it.  It is frustrating to have the same conversations over and over again – campaign finance, third parties, left challenges to Democratic presidents, holding on to the little bit we have.  I’m having a hard time calling this freedom.

And by the way, is anyone else concerned that revitalizing our economy means selling more stuff to more people, that it means turning more humans into consumers and trading whole foods for flat screens?  It just doesn’t feel like freedom.  Plus, last I heard, the earth is burning.

I don’t want to go through the list of socioeconomic indicators that can roll off our progressive tongues – but a 20% and growing wealth gap between whites and blacks/Latinos?  When do we have our (R)evolution?  Where is Mt. Zion?  Which way to freedom?

We have “marked up luxury goods flying off the shelves,” and the highest rates of hunger we have seen in a long time.  The top 1% still have 40% of the wealth (in Haiti they have 80%, but that’s not the richest country in the world).  And the best news around is that two rich white guys are giving tiny bits of their fortune to men of color in New York.  And yes, we have a system in which the few and the rich still vote before we do, “want to run? can you raise the money?”

I know y’all know all this stuff.  And I’m appreciative of the brilliant strategists on this list who are tackling reality as it is – I know I benefit from your work.  Keep holding them back!  And get some wins along the way!  I promise to chip in where I can.  But I do want to know where Zion is, I want to know what it is, I want to be part of a movement that rallies a people to freedom – not to electoral hope, but really – freedom.

It might have something to do with this dream we want to rebuild, or it might be a whole new thing – a post-consumer sustainability amidst a radical and inevitable demographic shift.

I think we have to engage the question all over again.  I think we have to invite our people to imagine something else – not just try and feed our thoughts to them.  What is the good life?  What does it mean really to flourish?  What is community today?  How do we survive and thrive?  What does it meant to govern ourselves?  How do we tend to this earth? How do we become more free?

Where is Mt. Zion?  Let’s find the way.

No Comments

  • Sara Oaklander says:

    You got me all riled up, Gibran. I hope others, too. Keep it coming…

  • Cynthia Silva Parker says:

    Excellent questions Gibran! I’d add one that I think is implied in what you’re saying. What does freedom look like at the micro level (one’s interior life and one’s family/immediate circle), the mid level ( work, neighborhood, etc) and the macro level (the structure of the economy, society, etc). And how do we get these various levels to line up?

  • Gibrán says:

    Thanks for the energy Sara!

    Cynthia – loving your questions and the levels you are looking at, I think you just provided fodder for another post!

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