We have been exploring what it takes to transform rather than regulate on our blog Power and Privilege 2.0. This inquiry continues to return us to the importance of embracing treating each other well as a practice.
In Tuesday’s piece Relationship is the Resolution she illuminates how the standard go-to tools for facilitating conflict are bandaids designed to ‘move on’ rather than develop the group’s practice of working together in difference. Instead of depending on tools that are designed to patch things up when deep historic wounds surface, she suggests that “the resolution is in our relationship, in our ability to stay in discomfort together, to be humble in the face of not knowing what to do, and to not pretend that we know how to solve this intractable issue.”
In Allen’s following piece on his learnings as a #BlackLivesMatter activist, he declares that “A culture of love and responsibility has to be present in how we work together… I am committed to activism as a practice not as an occupation.”
I then follow with a piece exploring white people’s response to the police shootings and emerging black leadership where I conclude that “we still have a lot of learning to do about being nicer to people and tougher on systems.”
The idea of committing to practicing love and responsibility with each other reminds me of the power of Open Space Technology, which is introduced as a structure that provides just enough order to bring together Passion & Responsibility. While it works really well at moving people’s passion to action, there is one feedback that we hear when using Open Space in social justice spaces. During the self-organized breakout sessions, some people complain that the conversations are dominated by a few, which usually falls out along lines of societal power (i.e., women complain that men dominate).
When Opening Space in the urgency of a social justice crisis, we focus on the mechanics of the structure and emergence, giving less attention to practices of how we want to be together as if this would distract from the generative chaos. What keeps us from inviting the practice of treating each other well when we are focused on ‘solving’ societal injustice?
As Tuesday notes “…practice being just….there is nothing simple about that.” Even so, it may be the most accessible and effective activism there is.