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The personal is political

November 9, 2016

Last night, while teaching yoga, I ended class by offering "may our neighbours to the South vote in a way that connects rather than divides the world". I try hard not to bring my personal politics into class too often, but last night I was feeling it. I was feeling the hope of an election that from the very beginning was fueled by rhetoric and hatred, sexism, racism, and fascism.

 

A man in the class was quick to say, "it will be exactly as it needs to be, calm down."

 

At first I worried that I had offended him. My role as teacher is to come in as a blank slate and hold space for others right? I've had many conversations about my need to edit myself, to ensure that I am not offending others, especially as I teach in a smaller community that maybe isn't as liberal as I am.

 

In reflecting upon this today though, I didn't need to be told to be calm, as I was calm. I didn't need to be silenced, because the personal is political. I didn't wish for a certain candidate to win, even if it was implicit in my words, but simply for a connection among people rather than the hatred and vitriol I have been witnessing. Do I need to weigh the concern over one person finding disconnection with me due to my desire for connection in the world over my own need to stand up for what I believe in?

 

I am curious as to how there be a balance between the political and the spiritual. How I can bring a sense of love and connection into my teaching, since it is so much a part of my personal practice. How can I hold space and give love to those whose opinions differ greatly from mine while still keeping my Self, my beliefs and my heart held hopes as part of the practice.

 

For me, and many who identify as feminist particularly as an intersectional feminist, the personal is political. I carry the weight of my gender, my sexuality, my body shape, my mental illness, my socioeconomic class, my identity with me into the classroom. I carry it in all aspects of my life. I have the privilege of carrying most of it in an invisible way. You can not see my class, my mental wellness, and the colour of my skin awards certain privilege. To say I am heart broken today for my neighbours to the South, and for the world at large is an understatement. I fear for all those who do not have the privilege of invisible barriers like I do. I don't now how I can help. But I know, the only thing that can beat out hate is love.

 

May the world find a place of healing in the grief.

May this be the wake up call that those who say, "it doesn't affect me" needed.

May we all find strength to love through the hatred.

May we stand up for those whose voices don't carry as much privilege as ours.

May we feel, deep down, that this does affect our world and find the strength and power needed to rally against it.

 

I stand hopeful. I find strength in offering compassion out to my world. I hope that in using my voice that I create stronger connection rather than division.

 

Yet, still I wonder if I should hit publish. If I should use my platform, no matter how small, to offer my stance. For in class, in life, in this community I reside within, I need to remember that I am there to guide and to lead, what right do I have to be political. But then really, why don't I have the right?

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