This is the fifth article of a 7-part series that will focus on the issues in our radical movements that I think need our immediate and ongoing attention. I am using the ancient eastern concept of chakras for the body as a parallel to our movement’s energy wheel. Healers believe sickness occurs when the body’s chakras are blocked or out of alignment. Likewise, the U.S. Left and our social justice movements need our collective introspection, analysis and adjustments that lead to unblocking our energy/chi points. A weakened Left, and especially the Black Left, have been unable to provide this critical guidance over the last twenty years. I do not have the space to go too deep into my thinking although I have been pondering and talking about this very subject for a few years now. I am looking to stimulate a higher level of principled discussion about how to energize and organize the social forces coming into play at this pivotal juncture in history and how we can rebuild a formidable radical movement in this country.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds.”
-Redemption Song, Bob Marley
Our social movement can be schizophrenic about how we treat one another. While we can be a loving, caring bunch of folks, we can also be mean-spirited and self-serving. Whether you call yourself a progressive or a revolutionary, movement forces don’t always live up to our lofty principles. This article will focus on how our movement deals with disruptive, inhumane and criminal behaviors amongst us. It’s time to discover the chakra of redemption as a more humane way of dealing with contradictions. The pre-requisites to redemption are accountability and humility.
Our organizations and social movement have at least two issues going on in the arena of negative behaviors. One is how we deal with self-criticism and criticism, and recognize the importance of integrating the practice in our work styles in a healthy, non-punitive way. The other is the need for an established recourse for when one of our own has done mental, physical, social and financial harm to a person or to an organization in our movement. These two realms are inextricably connected and our movement has dealt with both in a half-hearted, superficial way. Read more