The Social Justice Program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society is hosting a gathering for emerging leaders on October 12-15, 2006.
The history of social justice work is filled with individuals and organizations that were unable to sustain the long-term effort needed to face continuing oppression. Many activists today are learning from this history and are attempting to address the errors and limitations of past efforts, resulting in a new kind of activism taking hold in the social justice movement in this country. This “spiritual activism” can be seen generally because of an understanding of where past movements have failed or fallen short. This also includes the peculiarities of modern day oppression, in which the new tools that are required need to be addressed.
This inter-generational gathering of activists and organizers offers support to social justice workers committed to changing the existing culture of organizing and to creating a stronger, more sustainable movement for social change.
I am honored to have been invited to be part of a team of mentors to facilitate this process, among these Rev. Francisco “Paco” Genkoji Lugoviña, Rev. Hilda Ryûmon Gutiérrez Baldoquín, Lisa Charley, Nghia Tran, Dr. Kyra Bobinet, and Sule Greg Wilson.
At the gathering-retreat, I will be facilitating a session titled Integrating Spiritual and Social Justice Practice: Struggles Toward Liberation and Transformation, during which we will explore some key issues confronted as we engage in the work of both social justice/transformation and spiritual practice. An opening talk will offer a framework for considering human development, social identity, and power dynamics within the context of oppression, as well as the process of consciousness-in-action. this will be followed by a dialogue among participants to address issues and questions such as:
- How do we reconcile seemingly contradictory views of spiritual practice and social change work, e.g., acknowledging the Divine Oneness of humanity and working toward a pluralistic and egalitarian society, or striving for ego transcendence while struggling for affirmation of subordinated identities and redefinition of dominant ones?
- Can we learn from, adopt and/or adapt spiritual practices and traditions outside our own culture(s) without misappropriating these? Do these practices and traditions work for us without causing dissonance within ourselves or giving rise to power dynamics with others?
- What effect does your spiritual practice have on your organizing? How does it help your ability to influence and provide leadership for change? How might your spiritual practice and views hinder your social transformation work?
Raúl Quiñones Rosado