Bio, Positionality Statement, and Acknowledgments (not here yet):
In an ideal world, a human being would always feel like a dynamic member of a kinetic, ever evolving and pulsing whole. One organism would never stagnate alone, and would instead be constantly enraptured and vivified by the ecstatic flow of the divine through its corporeal vessel, a member of the collective.
Unfortunately because of constructs of Human and White Supremacy, I have lately been in danger of feeling like a singular stagnating organism. Due to tensions I feel since becoming aware of structural inequality, imminent ecological collapse, cultural misappropriation and simultaneous cultural degradation, globalization, monoculture, the various "industrial complexes"and neo-colonialism (to name some of the tentacles of the kyriarchy), I scarcely know what to do with myself. At times I am so self-conscious that I forget my oneness. It's been a challenge to balance my sanity, my do-no-harm ethic, and also not to complacently contribute to the maintenance of hegemony. So I've tried to define my evolving value system in opposition to the fears that have lead at times to stagnation. Rather then fret and devolve into a state of perpetual mourning and paralysis, I now note when I’m feeling engaged and in alignment with moments of calmness and oneness. These moments of alignment are usually generated by successful cultural exchanges, direct acts of horizontal reciprocal solidarity, feeling held in community, practicing compassion, symbiosis, wonder, awe, magic, dancing, play, and creative collaboration. I think, like most people, I inherited some of the aforementioned values and even my academic sensibilities from my relatives.
On one side of my family are Holocaust survivors from Poland, whose acute accounts of trauma and survival I heard from the time I was a toddler, as their first grandchild. Hearing their stories at such a young age engendered a deep sense of empathy and loss in me, but also left me with a tendency to always side with the marginal in virtually any scenario. According to our family lore, we have historically had both a very well-developed social consciousness and political purpose. On the other side were outspoken Mensheviks (a journalist and doctor, respectively) who fled Russia during the Bolshevik revolution. Once they escaped Russia they formed and lived in communes in Berlin and Paris. It was a bad time for them to be settling in Western Europe as Jews. My grandfather married a girl to help her escape Nazi Europe and tried to lead Walter Benjamin across the Pyrenees after the Vichy regime took power in France. Later they landed in New York City, and he became a sociologist at Cornell. He met my grandmother while she was translating for the Nuremberg trials, and later he took a job to do audience research in Munich through Radio Liberty. My grandmother’s family had been prominent in Hops trading and art patronage in Munich, assimilated after being excluded from dominant German society, unable to inhabit the cities or even own a last name after fleeing pogroms and the Portugese Inquisition, respectively. When my grandmother and her sister fled persecution in Germany to New York in 1938, a cousin – the anthropologist Franz Boas – offered to put her through college. I write all this because these stories inform my drive to do the work that I do.
Preparing to conduct interviews on the steppes of Mongolia amongst shamans after being privileged with a scholarship, I came across my own squeaky nine-year-old voice on my first taped interview-with my sociologist grandfather (whose parents looked very Central Asian and whose sister took her last trip to Mongolia). The tape and its contents were a remarkably poignant and pertinent reminder of the legacy my family left me of social justice, idealism, humanism, and intellectual curiosity, tempered by a sense of historical context and empathy. It strengthened my resolve to do the work that I was setting out to do – and to do it with a caring and open heart, like the time when I interviewed my grandfather and observed how enlivening it was for him to recount his life story to me.
Since returning from Mongolia, I have lived in Philadelphia, Munich, Austin, New York, rural Vermont and North Carolina and have traveled to Baltimore, New Orleans, Prague, Jerusalem and the West Bank, among other places. In the Middle East, I learned that the feeling I had cultivated in Mongolia of strong connection and affinity towards indigenous nomads was still alive. A desperate thought had occurred to me while I was standing in a destroyed Negev Bedouin camp: an international society of service to indigenous nomads must exist someplace in the world, and they must be called to action here! Nomadic peoples seem so often to be the physical or cultural casualties of ambiguous or arbitrary geopolitical borders and the buffers between warring nations. When I came back to the States, I lied in bed for 10 days in grief. Then, I did a search on the internet and found that no such organization existed. At first, I resolved to be the propagator of such a concept and the manifestor of an ensuing non-profit umbrella organization that could easily be found and contacted, and that would connect nomads with international organizations that provide health-related or legal resources to them pro-bono. But then I received some tough but necessary feedback which I critically reflected on and thus I learned to support efforts being led by the people who are being affected themselves, rather than acting out of a white savior complex, a symptom of white supremacist enculturation, no matter how well-intentioned.
In order to make spiritual, ecological, even economic strides as a species, we need to immediately dismantle white supremacy and human supremacy and we need to start working through our collective traumas and working towards meaningful repairs.
Trauma is an integral concept wrapped up in Jewish identity, (and many other overlapping marginal identities) and is an underlying cause in ongoing conflicts around the world that need to be dealt with once and for all! And de-traumatized, expediently, before it's too late, shifting the whole narrative of Judaism (and in other spheres) away from cycles of trauma reification. We have been threatened by extinction and now as settlers amongst Palestinians and Indigenous Americans, we threaten their extinction. Even as a multi-generational refugee, my identity has been co-opted by occupation. Settler colonists all over the world are currently threatening most life on the planet with our genocidal, extractive, exploitative policies and attitudes.
I am convinced that our survival as a species on this planet is interdependent. I’m a staunch believer in biodiversity, perceptual diversity and cultural diversity. For me, beauty and intrigue are to be found in the difference. All of life is worthy of veneration, reverence, and awe. If beauty isn't compelling enough for you, on a practical level, if non-arthropod carbon-based beings wish to continue to exist and thrive on this planet, we need to make some rapid behavioral changes or else we’re headed down the road of doom and destruction. Traditional societies have a great deal to offer us as models for sustainable living.
In doing the work of attempting to decolonize myself and my teaching praxis as a Montessorian/Nature Awareness mentor while supporting others in similar efforts I am attempting to disengage from the cycle of trauma reification and begin to create repair, amelioration of suffering, or perhaps only harm reduction. In any case
I invite you to join me.
SETTLER COLONIST QUESTIONS
where is my place in the multiverse?
where may i plant my roots?
what lands am i native to?
whose lands am i currently occupying?
what is my lineage?
what are my ancestral traditional practices?
how do i mitigate or reduce the harm of my unwanted presence here?
how do i make repair for the harm caused by my ancestors? by myself?
how do i transform into an accomplice to those whose oppression and extinction i am complicit in?
what does solidarity look like across races and species?
THE MORE THAN HUMAN WORLD
We are interdependent. If we do not make space for other life to thrive, who is to truly and conclusively say that we will survive?
Join the vanguard. Don't just rebel against extinction, embrace symbiosis. Reject human supremacy, reject white-anglo-euro-supremacy. Repair & regenerate.
Deep dive into collected materials on decolonizing the self
Freeing the feral
Cosmic Curriculum expansion pack
Personal Growth tools
Practical Life/Earth/ancestral skills