In his writing on Liberation Psychology, Ignacio Martín-Baró writes, ” . . . commitment, solidarity, hope, courage – all collective virtues only possible when people act in reference to others.”
When the focus is solely on individual trauma and other struggles, people disconnect and become self involved – distracted from the social, economic, political and philosophical underpinnings of the whole that we live in.
I was raped twice as a young woman, those acts are connected to our “rape culture,” which in turn connects to patriarchy. The healing itself became traumatic because it isolated me from the truth.
It wasn’t a matter of putting me in a room with other rape survivors, I did that too. All that did was isolate all of us as the victims, and the act of rape got defined as an aberration and not as a very real part of the culture.
How empowering it would have been back then to hear the truth, to learn the tools of resistance, and to work toward not only healing myself, but also to join with others to build the foundations for a new culture.
That’s powerful healing.
Something else that happens when the focus is only on the individual – other people’s suffering doesn’t register. Folks may be kind and helpful to people they encounter, but they are disconnected from the suffering of marginalized folks and from the conditions that make it possible for marginalization to even exist.
When they do get a glimpse of it, they feel overwhelmed because they have lived in the soup of an artificial reality constructed by white patriarchal culture – a culture that survives exactly because it does not foster using the tools of resistance and solidarity toward meaningful change. Or people pick up the tools of the patriarchy to resist – and as Audre Lorde warned, “the tools of the master will never dismantle the master’s house.”
For a long period in my life, I isolated with my own wounds. I barely knew how to heal myself and when I looked at the plight of others I felt a sense of helplessness and turned away.
It wasn’t until I ran into the writings of women like Audre Lorde and Angela Davis that the spark in me came alive. Their voices helped re-ignite that sense of “commitment, solidarity, hope and courage” that I got an inkling of as a child growing up in the socialist subculture of Argentina. There were many others, among them Ignacio Martín-Baró, that inspired and taught me.
I learned that what seems impossible, can become possibility. And from possibility, it can become the reality of liberation.
I’m working on a group offering that’s part teaching, part coaching, and based in experiential activities. I believe that we need to bring more than our mind in order to shift into a new way of being and doing. We need to bring our whole selves – our mind, our body with all its senses, our emotional ground, our intuition and instinct, our creativity – for meaningful change and for the possibility of liberation.
While that percolates, I’ll be offering 2-hour intensives for groups of 3 or more. Details soon!