Today is officially the Fall Equinox in the northern hemisphere of our Blue Boat Home, the Earth. The planet has been tilting on its axis away from the Sun since the Summer Solstice in June, and it will continue to do so, farther and farther away until the Winter Solstice in December. Our days will grow shorter of light and longer of night. Today is the one day in that time where light and dark are in balance. This balance of light and dark happens twice a year–at the Fall and Spring Equinox.
Does the work of social justice take any leads from this earth-centered experience of balance that visits us twice a year whether we are ready for it or not? I don’t know that I would have thought this before. Social justice work, to me, often feels like going above and beyond any sort of balance to rectify ancient and persistent injustices. This article by Peggy McIntosh which Rev. Jan recently shared with me helps me reconsider. She notes that hierarchical systems may actually allow that oppressed groups have not had a fair chance, but they don’t also acknowledge that the privileged groups enjoy extra amenities, as it were. In those hierarchical systems–all which we are soaked in in this American culture where male is above female, white above color of any kind, heterosexual above all other sexual identities, English speakers above all other language speakers, even multi-language speakers–to name a few, what does balance look like?
Balance means not only bringing the oppressed up, but bringing the privileged down. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the point where any of us who enjoy a privileged status begin to back out of the room. As a privileged person, being “brought down” sounds frightening. But what if that just means restoring balance–a balance where I no longer stand on free passes but engage in life like everyone else–and everyone else engages in life like I do?
I don’t pretend that this work of balance in social justice is easy. But, I also do not pretend that the twice a year reminder of the necessity of balance is just a sweet symbol. Without the rhythm of the earth and sun which passes through balance twice a year, our seasons, our earth, and our very existence would cease to exist. That’s how vital social justice is.