Meditation is not Pacifism: The Role of Mindfulness in Social Activism

:: Submitted by Korin LaJoy ::

June is a big month. Summer feels like it has finally arrived and the lull of winter fades into a memory. There is Juneteenth, a day that remembers and celebrates the thousands of enslaved people in Galveston Texas that finally learned they were free from the institution of slavery in 1865. June is also celebrated as Pride month amongst the LGBTQIA2S+ community. And, as with all things, it’s not that simple.

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, meaning it took two and a half years for enslaved people in the Deep South to learn of their freedom, and the legacy of the institution of slavery and racism are still prominent today.  And, as many celebrate Pride, the trans and non-binary community is facing some of the most oppressive and anti-trans legislation in US history – from legislation that restricts and/or outright bans life-saving medicine and medical procedures to the inability of trans folks to use a public restroom without fear for their safety.  

There’s inhumane laws being enacted against immigrant communities, especially the undocumented people living and working in the US. There are countless other atrocities happening every second of every day.  And at the same time, the wind rustles through the leaves, the sun is shining, a baby is born, two people fall in love. Reality is infinitely more complex than we will ever know.  I offer the questions we explored in a recent Friday Night Zen here for journaling or other reflection:

How does sitting in silence help heal the world?

How can we use mindfulness, as either members of an oppressed community or allies, to actively stand up against systems of oppression?

What is the role of meditation and mindfulness in working towards social justice?

Korin LaJoy is a Friday Night Zen facilitator and priest candidate at Clouds in Water Zen Center, a biology professor at a local community college, and proudly the T in the lgbtqia2S+ community. He lives with his wife, Emily, in Saint Paul.

The purpose of this group is to build community in the Twin Cities amongst people ages 18-45ish who are interested in meditation and mindfulness, or for those who are new or curious about meditation and want to try it in a more supportive group setting. Our bi-monthly meet up also has a topic and optional sharing after 30 minutes of meditation which is partly silent and partly guided. We meet the first and 3rd Friday of each month. Learn more here.