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  • Writer's pictureZulayka

What I Stand For

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy my daughter’s school did an activity entitled, “What I Stand For”. I didn’t realize how hard hitting that question would be for me, especially given the current state of our society. I am grateful for the deeper reflection that it has prompted.

My years of being a front-line, chant-shouting, poster-carrying, fight-the-power activist have come and gone (for now at least). For the last decade or so, my life’s energy has been devoted to imagining and building an alternative to the individualistic, ego-driven, white-supremacist-capitalist, hamster-on-wheel model that couldn’t nurture my spirit. While I whole-heartedly believe that we need many strategies to bring forth the transformation our world is crying out for, I also believe that we each have our unique roles to play, and that one person definitely can’t do it all.

At 45 years of age, and in the midst of so much upheaval I want to reaffirm to myself, and to the world what I stand for:

I am committed to love as a force for (re)connection and transformation:

  • This is not frail anemic love professed only in words. This means to look at myself clearly in the mirror and commit to healing my wounds as a path to deepening love for myself and clearing the way for my love of others to shine through.

  • This is learning to love all humans, even the ones shouting hate in return.

  • This is love that encompasses the more-than-human world, that acknowledges the beauty and animacy in all of our kin, and creates space for listening and learning to the wisdom that is available to me from other realms and generations.

  • This love encourages a path of nonviolence, towards self and others. I am clear that I’d rather give my life than take a life if the moment ever requires that (which I pray it doesn’t).

I stand for beauty, light and joy:

  • I am committed to clearing my vision so that I can witness the goodness that surrounds me everywhere, to let it seep deep into my cells so that I may appreciate it fully and can reflect it back to the world.

  • Even (and most importantly) on bleak days and in horrific contexts, it is essential to re-ground in the inherent beauty, light and joy in myself and in others.

  • I acknowledge that there are many expressions of beauty in the world, and that I must do my work to relinquish the judgement that blinds me to iterations that I am not familiar or comfortable with.

I stand for equity and justice:

  • Although my career has been a curvaceous meandering path through a variety of roles and issues, the strong undercurrent throughout has been a deep commitment to equity and justice. The work that I currently engage with (either through paid or voluntary roles) supports groups and organizations that are contributing, in some way, to creating a more just and equitable society.

  • I am also clear that the ‘how’ and ‘why’ are equally (or more) important that the ‘what’ of this work. The energy and frame of mind that I bring to whatever I’m engaged in these days seems to outweigh the specifics of what I am doing. Especially in a society where the overriding messages are ‘do, produce, achieve, accumulate, repeat’ it becomes evermore important to bring full presence and open-heartedness. I believe this is ultimately the greatest gift I give to myself and to the world.

All of these commitments are only made possible through a daily, committed practice of: contemplative/meditation time in the natural world, embodiment practices, nourishing my body with healthy foods and plenty of water, reflective writing, prayer, laughter and humility. Many times I fail at living into these ideals and at behaving as my highest self, and yet I try again. This is what I believe, this is what I stand for, this is what I give my life to.

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