– January 13, 2019
“We have God and we have each other. We have our…community, fragile, and yet a fortress. Sometimes it seems too small and too weak to survive. And like the widow in Christ’s parable, its enemies fear neither God nor man. But also like the widow, it persists. We persist. This is our place, no matter what.” Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
Today’s featured transit – Sun/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn square Uranus in Aries
“Good fences make good neighbors.” It’s an old saw I’m quite familiar with and often use with clients when I’m encouraging them to define and defend their personal boundaries. Setting boundaries is the foundation for personal integrity. Knowing where I end and you begin.
People have been banding together in groups since the beginning of time. It’s our nature to seek out and connect with people who are like us. Excluding people who are not like us is the other side of that process and does not have to be a dysfunctional process or a symptom of dysfunction. It could be evidence of a healthy society in much the same way as good and proper personal boundary setting is part of maintaining a healthy self-identity.
In the United States, we have this myth that we can become anything we want to be, that class and race and gender don’t hold anyone back. That’s always been a crock of shit but never more so than now. Black women like me have just barely started being treated as inferior human beings and if you are a poor, disabled, or gender nonconforming Black woman, forget it. You’re still subhuman. It’s a weird existence being cast-out and alienated within your own country.
The descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States have created a unique communal identity and culture. Is it perfect? Hardly. Every step in the development and change in our community has been, and continues to be, studied and commented on by the mainstream white community and usually seen as some evidence of intrinsic dysfunction. Of course, it’s not. It’s actually our best and most effective survival mechanism.
Our evolving definitions of who we are and what we call ourselves have been constantly used as a marker of dysfunction as are our ongoing discussions about who belongs in our group and who doesn’t. These considerations are the foundation of a healthy process of group self-definition. The ability to define who you are as a group and defend that definition, which includes excludes people who do not meet that definition, is crucial to a community’s development.
Given that any group has the inherent right of self-definition, how do we assess and make sense of the current situation at the Southern border of the United States. By any objective standard, what’s happening is wrong. It looks wrong; it feels wrong; it’s hurting people. But where does that breakdown occur? What exactly has gone wrong?
These are questions we need to ask ourselves as citizens. We need to decide who we are and what kind of community we are creating. What kinds of lines are we drawing? What do those self-definitions say about us? What do the actions we take to enforce those boundaries say about who we are?
Today’s action: Meditate on these questions: What does it mean to belong? How do people connect with each other and form community? How should people decide who to include and who to exclude?
Today’s sharing: Healthy boundaries/borders require a continuous process of self-reflection and self-interrogation. Every group has the right to define itself. But when those self-definitions become rigid and disconnect you from relationship with the rest of humanity, then they have become dysfunctional and unhealthy.
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