Connection, Community, Commitment

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIn the United States, Spring is rapidly approaching. Where I live in Atlanta, it would be fair to say that it is already here: warm temperatures and rain abound while grass slowly pokes up green shoots among the sod freshly laid in my neighborhood. Elsewhere in our country, however, it’s still cold, and some far-flung friends still contend with mounds of snow. We all yearn for the return of warmth and light, ready to shake off our necessary indoor hibernations and reconnect with the world.

How much connecting do we really do? As pagans and earth-religious folk, we are more apt to enjoy our time outdoors, regardless of season, and build and knit community. We are just as prone as the rest of the world to disconnect, allowing digital connections to replace hugs, handshakes, and the earth beneath our feet. While we are kept apprised of local and worldwide events, we forego direct experience. Western society as a whole has an enormous longing for connection in all its forms, because we have slowly forgotten how to connect as we have technologically progressed.

Our connections to one another have weakened. Our connections to the earth have weakened. We see this demonstrated in numerous articles on relationships, in the constant battles against all forms of bigotry, in the growing awareness of food sources and nutrition, and the fight to have our government recognize the realities of pollution and climate change. On many fronts, we struggle to connect back with loved ones, community, and our natural environment. We are all connected, but we have lost sense of connection.

I am concerned with many things. I see my genderqueer friends struggle for recognition of their humanity, just like my gay or racially diverse friends, and fellow feminists. Laws are being passed in the guise of ‘religious freedom’ to allow discrimination. The banning of the phrase “climate change” in Florida’s government even as the waters in Miami are rising. Fossil fuel companies abusing the environments they drill or blast while the communities that depend on the jobs or tourism suffer from the manifold fallout. Food deserts in cities compounded by ignorance of proper nutrition or any connection to where and how food is grown. Cycles of poverty and abuse intrinsic to systems of oppression.

I believe that we can heal it all, in time, if we spend a little less time on our phones and more time having a coffee together in our kitchens, sharing each other’s recipes, helping weed each other’s gardens, and looking after each other’s children. We reknit our bonds in the most basic and positive of ways, and remember what it is to trust each other again.

Angela Davis recently talked at the University of Southern California, and spoke of a need for intersectionality in all of these struggles:

“There can be no great triumph over racism without addressing capitalism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, the environment that we live in and the food that we consume. We have to recognize all of these connections.”

“Intersectionality” is a sociological term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, and says that racism, misogyny, religious discrimination, ageism, ableism, homophobia, and other such social injustices don’t exist separately, but rather “interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.”  Currently, our injustices work together better than we do!

This Spring, as we re-emerge, blinking, into the sunlight to embrace its return, let us also renew our commitments to each other. Talk to your neighbors. Plan a community garden. Get involved in your local schools and libraries. Help a stranger. Lend your voice to another’s struggles. Protect your local water supply. It’s time to manifest Spring in the hearts and minds of our communities and not just ourselves.

Elissa Rich

Bleeding-heart and bloody-knuckled liberal with practical and passionate visions of saving the world for myself, my children, and my world-wide family. Student, designer, artist, writer, mother, lover, activist, friend, survivor, pagan.

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