I spent the last two days at a seminar for non-profit organization and grant writing. It doesn’t sound thrilling, but the speaker, BJ Douglass, spoke with such fierce and gentle love that she exposed hope in the midst of a sigh. Like a Southern Baptist preacher, she bellowed love and light from the front while we, her devoted pupils, shouted back, “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” at each new revelation.
She said a lot of beautiful things, but one thing stuck out as an idea I had been contemplating this week. She said:
“If you point out a problem and don’t have an alternative, you are part of the problem.”
There is a lot to complain about.
There are a lot of issues.
There is a lot of hurt.
I could complain all day long (and sometimes I do!), pointing out the harm and oppression brought about by patriarchy, fundamentalist religion, paternalism, racism, gentrification, classism, the misuse of limited resources, corrupt governments, child abuse, inadequate health resources, poverty, unequal housing and educational opportunities, colonialism, etc etc etc.
There is plenty to complain about.
But if I don’t present an alternative I’m just another angry woman playing into the system, being part of the problem.
If all I do is get angry and tell people how miserable the world is and how horrible we are to each other, I am the problem.
I need something else to offer.
Racist, sexist, classist systems exist and limit us from reaching our full potential and really living out of our true selves, so I seek racial, gender, and economic reconciliation by encouraging dialogue across divisive lines, looking into myself to find the root of the division hidden within and inviting people into that root to help me cut it down.
Patriarchy is oppressive and harmful to both women and men, so I unite with both women and men who are living in ways that reveal the dignity and equality of all people along the gender spectrum. I educate myself, listening to stories of people’s experiences, and seeking to share those stories in order for others to become aware.
Rugged individualism leads people into loneliness, isolation, frustration, and depression, so I live in community to show people there is another way to live; there is an alternative to self-dependence and co-dependence: INTER-dependence.
When you see the problem, don’t just get angry and complain about it, making dichotomies of the good people and bad people, pitting one group against another.
Go ahead, get real angry.
But let it go before it leads to hate.
Then start living a lifestyle that models an alternative.
And let that lifestyle be ruled by love.