Magazine article Tikkun

How We Treat Each Other Makes a Difference

Magazine article Tikkun

How We Treat Each Other Makes a Difference

Article excerpt

WHAT I WOULD MOST LIKE TO SHARE WITH future generations of people committed to working for justice is that howyou treat people in the course of doing your work makes a difference. It is true that movement organizers often work under very challenging conditions, and we sometimes lay our anger and frustration at the feet of friends and allies who are much more accessible than the powerful who perpetuate the cruel systems of oppression we oppose. Conflicts and failed communications are to be expected and can usually be resolved with honest dialogue and by sincerely owning one's mistakes.

What concerns me is the type of oblivious and self-involved behavior that becomes so pervasive that it saps energy and even breaks the spirits of those who encounter it. I think that there is a contradiction in claiming to work for a better world in the future while at the very same time causing people a lot of pain because of how one acts in the here and now.

Although I have always believed that how we relate to others is important, my awareness of this has been heightened by the arena in which I am currently engaged. In 2005 I ran for Common Council in the city of Albany, New York, and I am now serving my second term. After decades of working in movements where people shared certain basic values and operating principles, I now work in a political context that is much more diverse and where the emphasis is usually on getting the job done, no matter the personal damage along the way.

My Black feminist principles have been sorely tested, but I also find that these movement values are extremely useful in the very different world of electoral politics and government bureaucracy. …

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