image by @juanster
None of us can be free while any of us suffer.
Civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” Hamer is also quoted as saying, “When I liberate others, I liberate myself” and “When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out, ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.”
Our liberation is interwoven together. We are interconnected in every way including and especially our freedom.
Indigenous Australian artist and activist Lilla Watson said, “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Let us work together for liberation. Let us love together for freedom. Let us dismantle what scholar and activist bell hooks called “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” by remembering our connection to each other and centering love and care.
hooks writes about “a love ethic” as a foundation for freedom in her essay Love as the Practice of Freedom.
Here are some gems from this essay by bell hooks:
“A culture of domination is anti-love. It requires violence to sustain itself. To choose love is to go against the prevailing values of the culture.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “believed that love is ‘ultimately the only answer’ to the problems facing this nation and the entire planet. I share that belief and the conviction that it is in choosing love, and beginning with love as the ethical foundation for politics, that we are best positioned to transform society in ways that enhance the collective good.”
“Awareness is central to the process of love as the practice of freedom. Whenever those of us who are members of exploited and oppressed groups dare to critically interrogate our locations, the identities and allegiances that inform how we live our lives, we begin the process of decolonization. If we discover in ourselves self-hatred, low self-esteem, or internalized white supremacist thinking and we face it, we can begin to heal.
“Acknowledging the truth of our reality, both individual and collective, is a necessary stage for personal and political growth. This is usually the most painful stage in the process of learning to love — the one many of us seek to avoid. Again, once we choose love, we instinctively possess the inner resources to confront that pain. Moving through the pain to the other side we find the joy, the freedom of spirit that a love ethic brings.”
“Choosing love we also choose to live in community, and that means that we do not have to change by ourselves. We can count on critical affirmation and dialogue with comrades walking a similar path.”
“Working within community, whether it be sharing a project with another person, or with a larger group, we are able to experience joy in struggle. That joy needs to be documented. For if we only focus on the pain, the difficulties which are surely real in any process of transformation, we only show a partial picture.
A love ethic emphasizes the importance of service to others. Within the value system of the United States any task or job that is related to ‘service’ is devalued. Service strengthens our capacity to know compassion and deepens our insight. To serve another I cannot see them as an object, I must see their subjecthood.”
“The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.”
Yesss to this deeply moving essay by hooks as well as the powerful reflections by Hamer and Watson.
image by @skamenar
Taking a moment here to notice how does this land for you. What resonates most in these reflections? What feels most accessible to you right now in relation to love as a practice of freedom? Can you start there slowly extending outward as you’re ready from most to least accessible practices and acts of love? Can your love include yourself?
Choose love. Choose love as a form of anti-oppression work. Choose love for yourself and all beings. Choose love, service, and community as the foundation for your ethical framework. Choose love when all you want to do is choose hate. Choose to let love hold the hatred, the grief, the resentment, the rage, the joy, the ease, all of it. Choose love again and again, allowing it to be your guide, allowing it to bring all of us a step closer to liberation each and every time one of us chooses love and offers it to ourselves and others. Choose love as an act of freedom.
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