All the good things in life take practice. If you are a doctor or a lawyer, you have a practice. If you mediate, you have a practice. Everyone knows that getting good at a skill such as piano, soccer or dancing takes practice. It takes practice to break old habits, to lose weight, to adopt new behavior. And while for some things, the phrase, “practice makes perfect” is apt, for the messy business of life there’s only practice and more practice and a new day to try again.
And so it is with the work of building the Beloved Community and dismantling oppression. Of rejecting the dominant cultural paradigm that allots perks and benefits based on skin color, gender, ability and a multitude of other traits that billions of people have in different combinations. It also takes practice to build new ways of being together.
If you live in the US, you are participating in a system that was set up to foster inequity and inequality. The recent, powerful advances made over these last small 100 years do not change a deeply entrenched system. You may be on the receiving end of this inequity or you may be on the perpetuating end – or you may be on both ends.
Regardless of where you find yourself, there is work to be done. All practice begins with awareness and mindfulness. The work of building the Beloved Community is difficult – looking at systems of oppression brings up anger and pain and guilt. While exploring all of these emotions are necessary, it is also important to have practices that help balance these emotions. Practices such as self-care, connection with community and nature and regular exercise. Many people find benefit in a regular prayer or meditation practice.
The most important place practice lives is in self awareness around ones own biases, and of educating oneself about the deeply rooted nature of systemic racism. It helps to learn the difference between individually perpetuated racism and that perpetuated by a system. It helps to have a community of practice – folks you can talk about this stuff with! Like with most things, it’s easier to make change with a friend. It’s easier to move through the hurts with a friend. It’s also easier to challenge the status quo with a friend!
Curious to learn more? Email me and I’ll send you a list of resources that can assist in deepening your practice.
Interested in learning how to build a more diverse and inclusive organization? Email me for that too. We can practice together.
Thanks to Syracuse Cultural Workers for the beautiful Beloved Community image