Religion, Race, and Feminism in an Era of Elusive Enlightenment by Salaam Green


The warrior spirit is not only the coherent ability to resist circumstances outside of one’s making; but the ability to fight the war within all of us thus managing discomfort and chaos with the force of authenticity.

Recently an enlightened friend on social media reminded me of the importance of not only portraying an awakened consciousness in the fight towards enlightened morays in an age of fascist’s dictatorships but actually waking up to unresolved veracities.

Hurriedly, I searched for a working definition of enlightenment consistent with my Christian beliefs. I finally found several however, none exactly measured up to the values that are interlaced within scriptures and thus are founding principles of Christianity and religious fundamentals.

For myself as a spiritual believer of Christ and practicing Christian; I see enlightenment as the foundation for understanding Christian values of love and caring for all people, groups, and systems consciously and intentionally in tangent with the beliefs of what church goers should be attempting to practice outside the church walls. Enlightenment is a force of self-reflection best taken on by the mirror and a willing heart.

Taking aim at religious demigods and misogynistic reactors within religious spaces where justice particularly inclusivity within feminism paradigms are rarely denounced must be communicated with spiritual courage.

Enlighten frameworks and consciousness in Christianity are not necessarily juxtapositions rather companions towards awakening in a world where blind altruistic viewpoints exist in the aforementioned paradigms. For example scriptures conclude:

Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light;
but when it is not sound, and your body is full of darkness.
Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.  If then your
whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly
bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.  Luke 11:34-36

Scripture is the connection towards enlightenment as a part of faith’s work towards an end goal of inclusivity and wholeness. Many who practice conventions of religion may sometimes stray away from including many causes that affect marginalized groups. This I believe is a result of not truly being informed of the enlightenment of one’s self in tangent with the ideals of the word of God and the greater world outside of one’s self.Phillip Trowers states in the article “The Church and Enlightenment”:

Belief in perpetual progress towards some ideal state of natural happiness; belief in liberty equality and brotherliness as the primary and indispensable ingredients of that happiness; belief in democracy as the infallible means of securing them; belief in the power of unaided human reason to resolve all human problems and ensure that the rights and dignity of all are respected;  evil is chiefly due to ignorance and can therefore effectively be overcome by the right kind of education. (2017)

The areas that require our immediate awareness and conscious forward dialogue include religious connotations of feminism and derelicts non-subsidiaries of exclusion as it relates to race, gender, and religious spiritual philosophies and practices. However, if this dialogue isn’t a function of the spirit of enlightenment the movement will be mute.

Perseverance and functioning in non-futile motion towards well-thought out enlightened action during times of soul wrenching confusion isn’t something many people find comfortable or remotely easily achievable.

The Poet in me bemoans….To sit as a perched bird on the shelf of life’s sunshine waiting to be fed from the nectar drenched from nature’s holy manna is how most people groups would describe perfecting enlightenment principles.

In actuality, the sticky, messy, uncomfortable conversations we often protect ourselves from are actually what produce oracles for change. Looking intentionally introspectively during times of uncertainty can bring about a momentum of realism not readily seen during times of perceived calm.

Questions to ask when enlightenment becomes elusive

  1. What are the hidden truths that remain unveiled to those in need of enlightenment?
  2. How has self-protection left some groups isolated from the light of others?
  3. Whose truths have weaning universal value that no longer brings refreshment to the communities world view?
  4. Where has the ability to listen become capriciously indiscriminate and routine rather than collaborative?
  5. What/Groups that have been unconsciously ignored towards the paths of selfish enlightenment?

Therefore who holds the liturgy for right living for the enlightenment of self and others? Is it the church, or self, or some entities that parallels in thought and deed?

In an era where there is such uncertainty as it relates to diversity and openness as it relates to racism, sexism, homophobia, and othered marginalization to shy away from those or to unconsciously live in a space where deep enlightened paths and approaches are only taken to center one’s own life in a direction of peace is the antithesis of unity and helping others to live in the freedom of God’s chosen light.

What  if we all took ownership of the principles of enlightenment and stretched our arms out to those whose light flickers as a result of just being born where privileged negates to make room for inclusive mannerisms?

“Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth according to Adyshanti. Furthermore Adyshanti adds, that enlightenment is a destructive process tearing apart and loosening the bolts of personal beliefs that hold resistances hostage. Achieving a state of enlightenment where such concepts of awareness are superimposed is challenging however a tangible goal.”

The discomfort of humanness in the midst of suffering is an inevitable plight of vulnerability. The truly enlightened wake up morning after morning and wash their uncomfortable faces knowing it’s the mirror that reveals the truth and that truth reflects the piety of experiences lived and learned.

Shared consciousness of unconscious truth dissolves any of the faux entitlement of enlightenment therefore opening up the door for cracks of light to shine in places otherwise left exposed to divisions of darkness.

What to do in an era of uncertainty when enlightenment threatens to become obsolete? One must take the necessary steps to coax the giant of discomfort out from the shadows of judgment finally gaining the ability to see the view of the world from perspectives in need of the light of love funneled through the ray of illuminated self-reflection.

 

Salaam Green, 2016 Poet Laureate for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Writer, Poet, and Social Justice Activist-founder of Literary Healing Arts. Follow her on Instagram @beautifulblackpoetry and FB @ Red Couch Writers, and Twitter @ salaamgreen1.www.literaryhealingarts.com

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Categories: Activism, Buddhism, Love, Poetry, Resistance, Spirituality

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Enlightenment is a word that troubles me for a number of reasons not the least of which is the idea that “enlightenment” is a state where darkness has absented herself. Since darkness is a state that is routinely projected onto women and their bodies enlightenment is often equated with men.

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  2. Too much light or enlightenment blinds our eyes and maybe our minds, too. The lightest Light happens in an atomic bomb blast that destroys everything for miles around. Too much light turns into inner darkness after it blinds our eyes. I’d rather hear about Christians who believe the Sermon on the Mount and practice the teachings set forth there.

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