By Elizabeth Jezorski
On Self-Acceptance, Accountability & Sacred Activism
One thing I have realized in my recent journey from post-election rage to apathy to re-committing to my work, and from watching the criminal injustices happening to our Indigenous family at Standing Rock, and from watching our brown skinned family being perpetually and often violently mistreated, and from witnessing our Muslim family and our LGBTQ family being targeted over and over again, is that this world needs me.
It needs me because of and in spite of my whiteness. It needs me because of and in spite of my womanhood. It needs me because of and in spite of my financial position. This world needs me. It needs me because only I can offer what I am here to offer.
I’m the only one with my unique perspective, my unique gifts, my unique history, my abilities, my understanding. I’m the only one shaped like this, with a voice like this. I am the only one.
And so are you.
In that uniqueness is power. In that uniqueness is the capacity to create something original, something authentic, something totally new. Something vital is missing from the world until you, and only you, choose to deliver it.
In embracing uniqueness, there is the potential to change the world. You are already changing the world just by being in it. Why not own it and create that change consciously?
Why not? Because alongside power, with uniqueness also comes vulnerability. There is the possibility of being misunderstood, isolated, unseen and hurt: physically, mentally, emotionally. We bully those who are different, we mock them and challenge their rights. In that uniqueness is a seemingly infinite gap between you and me. This vulnerability prevents many of us from truly stepping into the world and into our lives fully. Instead, we seek only the places where we are similar, where we know we will be liked. In doing so, we make ourselves small to avoid the deep accountability that arises when we accept and live our uniqueness.
Yet radical self-acceptance, the kind that comes from consistently opening to our own unique experience, is the foundation of accountability.
Sometimes we are angry, we rage, we are resentful and we hate. Sometimes we want to burn the world down. Sometimes we can’t forgive or we can’t let go or we can’t trust the process. The choice isn’t to define how we feel, but rather to feel whatever is there fully. The choice is to own the experience in whatever shape or shade it shows up in- to claim or to blame.
Accountability sometimes means calling others out on their actions. With accountability comes the need to place boundaries, to express violations of these boundaries and to call others to the table to have the conversation. This is Sacred Activism. Sacred Activism comes from the place of accountability. Without accountability, activism is just ego-banter, it is just fuel for the fire to burn down the world. It perpetuates victimization because it comes from a need to place blame. Sacred Activism asks the question- “what are WE going to do about it?”, “how are WE going to right the wrongs?” It shifts the work away from blame and into the power to co-create solutions.
Sacred Activism also requires that we listen.
When we are accountable for our unique perspective of life, we can no longer remain unaware of the diversity among us. We are all different and when we live it, we will feel it potently.
We are no longer protected by conformity or by a system of beliefs. We can’t intimidate or police diversity away. Instead, we must honor uniqueness in others or destroy it for ourselves. There is no in between. We cannot make assumptions or buy into stereotypes about the other. And so, to understand those who are different, we must listen to them. We must use our accountability to listen deeply to others- to their feelings, words, and actions, in order to understand what the other is experiencing. This is empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand that which you do not experience. And with it, comes the capacity for compassion. When you truly know another, compassion is inevitable. Yet how do we hold compassion for those who reject their own accountability? How do we offer compassion to those who continue to seek blame, who continue to seek power over others before empowering themselves first, and therefore create victimization and oppression through their actions?
This is the work of Love. To Love those who are so deeply wounded that they cannot see themselves or the harm they perpetrate is the most Sacred of all Work to be done in this life. But to Love does not mean to be passive, to be silent, to be “good”, quiet, or polite.
To Love means to step into the Truth radiating from deep within your being, beyond the smallness of fear or offense. We must step into Truth, and hold its gaze even as we burn. Love is this burning. And as we fight, we must Love.
Each of us now is being called to accountability, not just for our external actions but for our inner space as well. We are being asked to look deeply within at the unhealed places still troubled by fear, grief, and suffering and see what lives there in the dark just beyond our conscious knowing. We are being asked to see these things and accept their presence within us, not to indulge them, but to hold them in Love.
When you live your life this way, you live with integrity and purpose. And so life becomes a work of art with all the nuances of shadow and light to dance with, instead of a battle to be fought and won. It is still work, but it is joyful work, and joyful work is really just play.
May we all join the dance.
. . .
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