Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

In honor of these two great focuses for November, I will attempt to publish links daily to a story about these folks, these issues, and so on!

Educate yourself, support trans* people and native people, and enjoy!

It’s trans* awareness month!

Standing with DAPL.

Girls shouldn’t be the props for taking away trans* rights.

How to contact the folks who sent in the militarized police to Standing Rock protests.

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Prison Bars

Short one today, because Flint’s crisis has exhausted every last bit of my brainpower.

In general, prison should have five goals, as described by criminologist Bob Cameron: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, restoration, and rehabilitation.

We look at prison as punishment here.  We treat this as revenge.

We just sentenced rapist Daniel Holtzclaw to 263 years in prison.  My first thought is “TAKE THAT, STUPID RAPIST.”

Who lives for 200 years?

Revenge is not an appropriate way to run a country.  Revenge is why we have more of our population incarcerated than any other nation.  Revenge is why we perpetuate racist, classist systems and wonder why we have a racist, classist society.  Revenge is why children become adults behind bars.  Revenge is why sexual assault is so prevalent in prison that it is treated as a joke and becomes part of the punishment.

Revenge is why people come out of prison traumatized; more trauma = less ability to cope with negative life events = recidivism.

And we wonder why our country is so messed up.  We’re destroying our mental health and our society in the process.

There’s got to be another way.

shame

I’ve talked at length about shame and its impact on behavioral change; namely, that when we’re feeling shame, we’re about as far from changing our own behavior as we can be.  When we’re feeling shame, the self is so threatened our only reaction is defensive, and defense is not a great place to begin looking at our own behavior and where we need to improve.

Lately, it’s getting more and more important for people in positions of privilege to acknowledge their own shortcomings.*  I read this as an enormously positive indicator that traditionally oppressed groups are beginning to make their voices heard and push for social change.  However, that means (of course) that people who aren’t so used to actively confronting contentious issues are being asked to react in thoughtful, nuanced ways, and are woefully unprepared to do so.

*We need to understand “privilege” as not necessarily individual, but rather being part of a traditionally valued part of our social system.  You as an individual might not be doing better than any other individual, but as a part of a general group, you have historically benefitted from some aspect of your identity.

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Mindfulness is one of the hottest catchphrases I’ve heard in a while; it’s been around forever, and is the cornerstone in multiple therapeutic modalities, but now it’s truly coming into fashion.

Yoga enthusiasts will be familiar with mindfulness; for those new to the idea, it’s being present in the moment, observing without judgement.  Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) rests on an assumption of mindful practice.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encourages participants to observe their thought patterns and how thoughts impact judgement, emotions and behavior; one must be mindful to be able to identify thoughts.  Mindfulness is helpful for cancer patients, people with chronic pain, people with severe mental health concerns, sports stars, businessmen and politicians.

Mindfulness practice is just that – it takes practice, a LOT of practice.  Trying different techniques is not only encouraged, it’s necessary to create a strong mindful practice.

(if you want suggestions for how to try mindfulness, look here, here and here for examples)

During the yoga class I attend each Thursday, we practice mindfulness meditation at the beginning and end of the class; our cool-down meditation includes our instructor speaking softly, guiding relaxation through our bodies and different chakras, along with the energies these bodily areas control.  The stomach digests change, the liver is where we hold resentments.  Our instructor encourages us to release all old hurts and angers, so we don’t hurt ourselves or others with them; she reminds us we don’t have to re-experience these old events to let them go, and that this anger does not define us.  She says we don’t want to be right, we want to be happy.

Every Thursday, parts of this speech bother me.  The world is unjust and unfair; each day, people are being oppressed, tortured, discriminated against.  And I think it’s right to be angry and stay angry about these things.

Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting; it doesn’t mean going along as if we agree.  Acceptance does not mean agreement.

Acceptance is taking reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.  It’s accepting this is the world we live in, and understanding what we can and cannot control.  Anger is a helpful tool.  Anger is a useful, appropriate emotion; it can spur us to further action and encouragement of others to make change.  But we can’t internalize it, or it will kill us.

Many women and men have written about this, much more eloquently than I can hope to do.

Is it possible to be right and happy?

Until then, we need a definition of mindfulness acknowledging anger as reasonable, understandable, and something that defines people all over the world.  Mindfulness; to be angry, hopeful and understanding; to have compassion for yourself and others; to accept reality, while disagreeing with how the world exists.