I have started this blog as a way to sort through something I have been grappling with: the relationship between spirituality and social justice. More specifically, to understand how I can better create balance in my life, maintain physical and mental wellbeing, and remain dedicated to the realization of social justice, in my community and the world as a whole.
In Spanish, the social justice movement is often referred to as “la lucha,” the struggle. Such work is a struggle because it demands dedication, courage, strength and resilience. Often those who are committed to working for social justice are people who are directly affected by injustice, who have transformed the struggle to simply survive into the struggle for dignity, for human rights, for their children and generations to come.
I had the privilege of being raised within a community of Chicano activists and artists in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The community was my childhood playground. Family outings consisted of protests, political art exhibits and gatherings with local community organizers and curanderos. I learned about right and wrong through discussion and activism around local, national and global issues: protection of water rights, prevention of the degradation of sacred indigenous sites, the war in Afghanistan and then Iraq, Palestinian self-determination, immigrant rights, access to health insurance and higher education, etc. Passed onto me was a strong sense of responsibility for my community as a whole, but particularly for those disenfranchised individuals within it. I grew a passion for community work and grassroots organizing. This, ultimately was motivated by love of my community, and an unwavering belief in the value of human life. It is in this work that I found my sense of purpose, my passion for life and for education.
Yet, my conceptualization of social justice work has always been separate from my spiritual work.
Throughout the past two years I have struggled with maintaining a spiritual practice in the midst of organizing for racial, gender and economic justice on my college campus. As a result, I have become increasingly stressed out and even burnt out from the work I have been doing and from my campus environment as a whole. I have come to realize that in order to maintain energy and hope in the midst of stress and struggle, I need to find a way to incorporate spirituality into my organizing and my life in general.
This blog series will explore how social justice and spirituality can be blended together in order to promote a healthier life style and organizing culture. I will attempt to connect my life experience with literature and interviews on the topic. It is my hope that in seeking answers to my own question, I can in turn share the information I learn with other young organizers who are also struggling to create balance. In addition to blogging, I will be interviewing notable organizers and spiritual leaders who have much more life, organizing and spiritual experience than myself. These interviews will contribute to my blog and will be aired on Generation Justice (Sunday nights at 7PM- KUNM 89.9 fm Albuquerque, Santa Fe).
by: Lucia Martinez