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Day 14: Progressive Seduction(s)...

I find myself more aware of a deep sadness whenever I am in progressively-oriented spaces today, which is odd: I'm perceived as progressive beyond belief...

I first noticed it during a Virtual Pilgrimage with the remarkable Rabbi Noa Sattath, who has been the director of the social justice arm of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). I was immediately drawn to her, impressed with the tenacity in her work, feeling myself so aligned with her commitments for relational connections between young Israelis and Palestinians, for equal voice for LGTBQI+ persons, for savvy-yet-realistic policy approaches to political reform in her country. As the Zoom meeting concluded, I was surprised at how very SAD I felt. I've since noticed the same feeling in various encounters with liberal-progressive voices in my various worlds.

A felt-sense idea arose this morning: the seduction of liberal-progressive voices away from sitting with their own pain. Very few of us have skills to sit with our own pain today, particularly in traditional institutions in which dissatisfaction channels to The Top. Spend any time in a leadership role today, and you'll see this dynamic play out. In churches that are increasingly "service-providers" amidst COVID-specs/fears, for instance, dissatisfaction, grief, anger get channeled to the visible one(s), regardless of whether s/he is responsible OR could remotely address it. No one likes to sit with discomfort, let alone pain, if there's someone else onto whom we can project it. Even better if it can be with righteousness, justice, and virtue.

The virtuous seduction. We/they can channel every discomfort into righteous action for social justice. The cause is so clearly JUST. The advocacy is so clearly RIGHTEOUS--virtue of the privileged or more powerful on behalf of the oppressed, the peripheral, marginalized. And ACTION is so clearly more necessary than inaction, right? Even asking the questions of what is my own pain in this? and/or what is driving my urgency here? seems complicit in injustice. Some anti-racist voices think any inner-work like this is completely irrelevant. Accusations of complicity follow, by anyone unwilling to sit with their own pain.

I think my sadness is a felt sense of impotence amidst such obvious righteousness, justice, and calls to action. Surely it's better to just do something than to bear the pain?

Except I'm learning how to sit with my own pain amidst impotence. As a result, I'm experiencing a deeper connection with more and more human beings irrespective of external things. I am strengthening in my capacity to BE the white woman who benefits so from today's systems AND to feel that pain that will never completely go away no matter every virtuous action I may take. I've learned to wait in some moments, to speak in some moments...but most significantly, to sit with pain I cannot alter, in myself or others.

Curious... Sitting with my own pain makes me a better, wiser ally AND it allows me to hear or sense pain that is being refused in another. Conservative or liberal or anyone in-between.

None of us is good at this...yet.

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