Author: LaDawn Haglund

Introduction from the Guest Editor – Healing Social and Ecological Rifts Part 1

This introduction appears in the issue “Healing Social and Ecological Rifts Part 1″ (Volume 8, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  The environmental crises we face today are unprecedented: climate change-fueled droughts, fires, and floods; biodiversity loss and species extinction; deforestation; and contamination of our air, water, and soil. These material crises threaten the very basis of life as we know it on earth—human and non-human—and exacerbate a laundry list of historical and contemporary injustices that differentially impact people based on their racialized, gendered, and geopolitical positionality. Anxiety, grief, and helplessness in the face of these realities affects our individual and collective health and wellbeing. This first installment of two special issues of The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society, Culture & Politics begins an exploration of these interlocking issues with the objective of “Healing Social and Ecological Rifts.” This inquiry is framed around the postulate that a shared foundational logic of domination and exploitation—exacerbated by an exaggerated individuality and blindness to our fundamental interconnectedness—drives both ecological crisis and societal …

Introduction from the Journal Editors – Healing Social and Ecological Rifts Part 1

This introduction appears in the issue “Healing Social and Ecological Rifts Part 1″ (Volume 8, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  In March 2020, we invited authors to contribute to this issue with the observation that the “social and environmental crises we face today are unprecedented.” In July 2021—following a year of unprecedented pandemic, fires, and floods coupled with a rise in mobilizations against police brutality and systemic racism—the observation seems to be a truism. The layering of these catastrophes has painfully laid bare the rampant exploitation of people and planet at the root of many disasters, and in turn the mentality of dualism beneath the exploitation. In preparing this issue we asked ourselves, what can we learn from contemplative practices that work to dispel dualistic thinking? How can we create the conditions for empathy, connection, and acting from a deep understanding of interconnectedness? The articles, essays, and poems herein—and forthcoming in a second issue later this year—tackle these difficult questions and more in unique ways, weaving together perspectives from …

Healing Social and Ecological Rifts Part 1

  Issue Contents Introduction from the Journal Editors by Gabe Dayley and shah noor hussein Introduction from the Guest Editor by LaDawn Haglund An Ecodharma Prayer of Earth Adam Lobel This poem was composed spontaneously near a red cardinal in western Pennsylvania on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, amidst a global pandemic, rising temperatures, melting ice, and mass extinction, April 2020.  Death Denial, Human Supremacy, and Ecological Crisis: Indigenous and Euro-American Perspectives James Rowe & Darcy Mathews We live in a period of heightened environmental crises and scholars have long pointed to narratives of human supremacy as central drivers of ecological destruction. We explore an overlooked but powerful explanation for stubborn attachment to the idea of human supremacy in the Euro-Americas: the political force of death denial. Human feelings of fear and belittlement in the face of finitude easily become fuel for compensatory attachments to narratives of supremacy. In making this connection between death denial and narratives of human supremacy, we draw on the work of anthropologist Ernest Becker and Indigenous …

Kushil Gunasekera in front of his foundation on the anniversary of the 2004 Tsunami. Photo credit: Reuters.

“The more you give, the more will be yours to give”: The Karmic Philanthropy of Kushil Gunasekera

“I want to be one of the nicest human beings that this earth has seen,” Sri Lankan Buddhist philanthropist Kushil Gunasekera told me in an interview early in 2020. I’ve known Kushil for years, so I’m no longer surprised when he makes such bold pronouncements about his life goals. From the naming of his humanitarian organization as the Foundation of Goodness, to its organizational mission of promoting “unconditional compassion,” bold claims of moral excellence are fundamental to Kushil’s understanding of himself as a Buddhist humanitarian. At first glance, Kushil’s ambition to be one of the nicest human beings may seem overzealous or even audacious. Yet, such a gloss would overlook Kushil’s passionate and earnest desire to cultivate and perfect his spiritual vocation of generosity. Take for instance the time when, facing severe personal financial duress, Kushil used the last remaining credit on his credit card to pay the college fees for three children of a woman he hardly knew. Facing financial bankruptcy, he had mortgaged his home for a personal loan. He was not deriving …

Baldwin and Buddhism: Death Denial, White Supremacy, and the Promise of Racial Justice

“Terror cannot be remembered… Yet, what the memory repudiates controls the human being. What one does not remember dictates who one loves or fails to love.” —James Baldwin More attention should be paid to why white people remain so attached to narratives of racial supremacy. This was a sentiment shared by authors Rev. angel Kyodo williams and Resmaa Menakem in an online fireside chat held in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.1 If the purpose of radical analysis is to grasp injustices at their roots, then what might lie at the aching roots of white supremacy? Menakem’s provocative answer, in his excellent book My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, is that white supremacy is conditioned by generations of unprocessed trauma: “White bodies traumatized each other in Europe for centuries before they encountered Black and red bodies.”2 Left unprocessed, that trauma has helped fuel a will to racial supremacy that works emotionally to soothe people whose violent histories made them feel less-than. A question that …

PRISONS DO NOT HEAL

shah noor hussein is a writer, visual artist, and scholar focusing on black feminism, art, and teaching. shah is a doctoral student and Cota-Robles Fellow at UC Santa Cruz in the fields of Anthropology, Critical Race Theory & Ethnic Studies. From 2016 – 2017, they were a Writing Fellow at the California Institute of Integral Studies and currently works as an adjunct professor, a freelance writer, and a multimedia artist in Oakland. Their previous experience as an editor includes work for arts organizations, journals, magazines, start-ups, and book publishing companies including Umber Journal and Nothing But The Truth Publishing. shah serves as an Event and Program Coordinator at their spiritual spiritual home, the East Bay Meditation Center located in Okaland, California, which offers radically inclusive dharma practices through Buddhist, multicultural, and secular approaches that focus on social justice. Return to table of contents for Spirituality and Survival: Imaginative Freedoms for Abolition Futures.

There Was Love Included in It: Linking Art and Abolition

Interview with Malik Seneferu and William Rhodes On a rare sunny day in San Francisco, two long term friends, artists, and grassroots community leaders, Malik Seneferu and William Rhodes, met in the summer amidst the chaotic backdrop of 2020. While the year brought heightened turmoil to the world, California endured a reemergence of protests against police brutality, coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and a particularly intense start to fire season causing terrible air quality and evacuations for many residents. These two old friends relished the opportunity to meet in-person, albeit outdoors and distanced, for a lively conversation on abolition and spirituality. Brother Malik and Brother William are lifelong artists, they serve as role models in their community, teaching and mentoring young artists, with a focus on Black youth in particular. Malik Seneferu is a prolific painter, muralist, illustrator, and sculptor whose work has traveled internationally, adorning book, magazine and newspaper covers as well as the walls of museums and galleries. William Rhodes is a sculptural artist with a fine arts flare; trained in traditional …

Spiritual Activism: On the Streets, at the Shrines

The Rally A little girl marches. Her face contorts. Her little legs struggle to keep up. Her fists raised in the air, she is angry. She wants justice. Her small voice unheard over the crowd. The chants: No justice; no peace. Documented. She becomes iconic. Be mindful of the children! Watch them Listen to them Seek their wisdom They are closest to the soul They are closest to the source They are closest to GOD At home, my parents had created a sanctuary, a place where I was free to be myself: reading, creating, laughing as loud as I wanted. Home was our tiny apartment in The Walt Whitman housing projects of Fort Greene Brooklyn—an oasis from the outside world. I was loved. The end. I was over-loved. My mother and father wanted more than just what the public school across the street could offer. My father, who had not long returned from a trip to Africa when I was around three, could not bear the thought of sending his child to a regular “White …

"Fed Up," protests at City Hall, San Francisco, CA, 2020. Photo by author.

In Solitude and Solidarity

Who Are You? If we are what we do then who are you? Are you who you say you are? Are you the same when you are sleeping? When the world is sleeping? When the lights are off? In the dark? Are you alive when you are dreaming? When awake? In the light? Who are you when no one watches? Who are you when no one knows? Are you the same? Are you living who you’re meant to be? Or are you living who they say you are? Self and other?  One and another? All or none? All  in  one? Whole Essential Soul Credentials Who Are  You? Pandemic Symptoms and Systems “… for there are times when disobedience heals a very ailing part of the self. It relieves the human spirit’s distress at being forced into narrow boundaries. For the nearly powerless, defying authority is often the only power available.” ―Malidoma Patrice Somé1 “Slow down. Inhale peace. Exhale worry,” I’ve had to remind myself. The more chaotic everything gets, the more peace I try to …

From “The Afro Tarot” deck by Jessi Jumanji

Queering the Archetypes of Tarot

We find ourselves walking down a path that our ancestors laid ____A spiral ________Up or down depending on which way you bend your neck ____________We’re in lockstep ________________Passing the same points of interest again and again ____________________The same but different ________________________Slavery ____________________We loop round ________________Sharecropping ____________We loop again ________The prison industrial complex ____Back again and again until we’re numb, I get dizzy and reach for a way out My hands find my well-worn deck of tarot cards and I pull at them hoping for answers I pull The Emperor  The oppressive chokehold, the knee on our necks, the invisible puppeteer that we fight against Oh how this world would love us if he were gone, or if he were like a redwood instead of a ram The Star The first glance of light after a lifetime of darkness Hope A way out of this dizzying madness 10 of Pentacles A question What will I leave behind and for whom? I walk the path that my Ancestors laid and suddenly I see it fork I see …