When faced with a challenge in your field and among your community, asking yourself: "what is really the most loving thing to do in this situation?*" may help give you an important perspective.
This approach may not always work because the things you have to encounter and deal with are vast, oppressive, hurtful, and may shake you to your core. Yet, the importance in asking this of yourself is not only are you centering the love you are capable of, but you are reminding yourself to show yourself love and compassion in your thinking, moving, and interacting.
Putting yourself first is essential. You are not here to do this work because you do it for others. You do this work because this is where you feel full, free, and find the liberation you desire for yourself and your community. This is the work you choose to do because you feel in your body, mind, spirit, your being that this is the path you shall take right in this moment. Until those feelings vanish, that is what you will continue to do.
The work does not require you to do it without support, safety, or community. When the work becomes that, ask yourself "what is really the most living thing to do in this situation? If leaving the work is the most loving that is what you do. Because you must always center yourself and the love you have for yourself. You will love others in various ways for periods of time, or a lifetime. But that love of others never trumps the love of self.
You may realize you love your partners as much as you love yourself. That is a love that is scary at times, but it is the love that will ground you, hold you accountable, help you grow, build, and become who you see yourself being. That is the love to lean on and to build upon. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is leave, is dialogue, push, challenge, speak, be silent, move, be still, search, breath, dance, fuck, shift, hold, build, or be dramatic as you make your choice. People must see the dramatic love you are capable of even if they do not understand in that moment, or ever. (Thanks Erika Lopez for that reminder years ago about being dramatic, especially as a queer Puerto Rican woman)
When those anti-choice alumni at the college you teach at targeted you, came on your campus giving out flyers about you, compromising your safety, calling your home, demanding you be fired, going to your place of work and causing a scene. Basically risking your personal safety and career; you remembered those are the same folks who fall ideologically in line with the murderer of George Tiller, they do not care for or love you. They do not see you as valuable, they simply see you as a fat brown girl with big hair tarnishing the youth (of Color) you teach. They were scared. You were more scared. You cried alone in your home, you cried when you told the Chair of your department and President of the college how scared you were for your life, life's work, safety of yourself and students on an open campus where any one of them could walk about with a weapon and hurt you, or your students (the hurt your students would carry to witness you hurt in front of them, on their campus).
And holding that fear, sharing it with the people who were able to create safety for you (to an extent), was them showing you love and compassion. You holding onto all of that on your own, was not showing yourself love and compassion. The restraint to not respond to those horrid emails, phone calls, and articles about you was you demonstrating the love you have for yourself. Giving that burden to those who have more power in the situation and members of that spiritual belief system, was showing yourself love. And look what happened! (a forthcoming lesson).
When you center yourself, the love for yourself, everything else falls into place where it should be for you, your community, and the life and liberation you seek and work to create for yourself.
*This is a quote by Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, a religious leader who stands in solidarity with Ugandan LGBTQI people and was featured in the documentary about the colonization and impact US conservative Christian groups have on communities all over the world, especially in parts of Africa, "God Loves Uganda." Many folks have said similar things, but I was reminded of this saying while watching this film.
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