|Tuesday, 02 November 2010 06:03|
“What good does wellness do me if I don’t have a good job or I can’t afford rent?”
Have you heard this question asked, perhaps in relation to ONE DC’s latest campaign addition? Have you asked this question yourself?
Don’t be embarrassed if you have. I’m not here to put you on the spot, just to address that question directly.
The Right to Wellness and Healing Campaign was started in direct response to health and wellness issues blocking ONE DC members from organizing.
Say a renting resident of Petworth – we’ll call him Antonio – made great contributions to the Right to Housing campaign in early 2009. Then his sister took ill and he spent all his time outside of work taking care of her. Say Antonio’s eating habits worsened, he started paying twice as much for public transportation each month to get to his sister’s, and he stopped mentoring a youth on his block.
Life happens, right? Individuals experience hardship sometimes, and they just have to make do.
But what happens when 10 or 20 people on a single block fall on hard times, or when only 4 people who were active leaders in our neighborhood or district struggle to take care of themselves?
If we accepted that life just happens, we wouldn’t be working for our rights to safe, decent and affordable housing, power to determine what happens on public land, or decent jobs in the first place. The specific ways that lack of wellness manifests in our lives are not coincidental, they are systemic.
Over the years, ONE DC members have had to leave organizing campaigns because of struggles that can be grouped into 5 areas: physical wellness, mental/emotional wellness, financial wellness, environmental wellness, and spiritual wellness.
Early in the wellness and healing campaign, members defined wellness as the intentional, ongoing and daily practice of self-actualization; making individual choices that lead to balanced, whole communities and individuals. This definition requires that we acknowledge that communities are made up of individuals, and we as individuals can transform or heal our communities only when we are working toward our own individual wholeness.
Sound familiar? You’ve probably heard this idea stated many different ways. We have to love ourselves before we can be loved by others or love anyone else. On airplanes, caregivers are reminded to put on an air mask before putting one on their children because if caregivers can’t breathe, they surely can’t look out for their kids.
ONE DC member Ron Harris shared an Aboriginal group’s quote with me. It can be read as requiring that we each take care of ourselves so we can take care of society together. They said, “If you have come 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.”
Indeed, let us work together, starting with ourselves.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 05 February 2011 04:32|