Ears of Change
Becoming a Voice of Change encompasses many layers…. discovering, and healing our personal wounds, as well as, acknowledging the historical and familial cycles that are perpetuated those wounds, understanding the power of sound and how our own words effect our lives, giving ourselves and others permission to know, speak, and live our authentic truth joyfully.
This week I have had the opportunity to take the Off the Mat Into the World training via online sessions. One of the main principles of the training is that before we can serve others we must be willing to dive in deep, under stand our own wounds and biases, and get to know ourselves, before we can serve others. The training looks at a variety of aspects of the shadow-self and all the intricate ways in which we judge one another. One aspect I found particularly apropos for our particular group is taking a look at our collective (American/first-world) power and privilege.
A lack of understanding of the power and privilege we(the collective we) may possess or lets say a middle class white woman might possess (me,) might offend the very people we are attempting to help or serve. If one is truly ready to commit to service, one has to be prepared for that service to not be wanted or needed Rather, my blond, white presence, even well intended my offend others simply in what I historically represent. I am of a culture of historical colonization, land rape, and unknown privilege. I need to be prepared to take a step back and look at how I can best serve and that might be by simply taking time to work on myself first.
Perhaps, if one is trying to go into a volunteer sight with a project in mind, a list of changes that is needed, or a way that one is going to help a particular group without ever having met them or visited, is not the best plan. Intentions may be good (to help, to serve) but is this actual motivation? Pushing our voice on others by going in with a Pre-prescribed plan and without listening is not service, its inserting our power and privilege on a group that has no choice but to listen.
What is needed more often than not is time, empathy, and compassion. To really understand a person or a community, one needs to spend time in the community. Then, there is time to listen to what is truly needed. To ask one’s self, who are the people here who don’t have a voice, how can I serve that need?
If you are I are able to deeply listen we might be able to hear what everyone around has to offer. Community members might have a story, or a song, or a creative service to offer. At times, what is needed is to be seen, and appreciated.
This past Saturday our three Michigan State University Interns presented their final project which was a community story telling day and exhibition. No one was “saved.” No service project was brought into fruition. However, in the two short months that these girls lived in the community, the demonstrated their appreciation by truly listening to all community members who were willing to contribute a story, a work of art, or voice clip to become a part of a collective archive. Their project demonstrated to me, the value of community participatory research. It is in the listening, and the being seen and heard that we can begin to understand one another. While we as human beings are all connected and of equal value;-we are all very different. I feel it is important to recognize and value our differences in stead of attempting to change one another in to what one dominant group considers a norm.
As you begin to explore your own passion and work in Seva or service in your own community-take the time to perhaps first ask yourself, “Am I attempting to try to save others in a misguided attempt to save myself?” If so, can you take time out for svadiyaya, or self-study first, before moving out into the world? Then perhaps realize that until we can see our selves as all one AND all different, we will always be looking at the world through a lense of power and privilege.
If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have because your liberation is bound with mine than let us work together ~ Lila Watson