In a recent article, called “An End to Self Care,” B Loewe powerfully argues for looking critically at when and how we talk about “self-care.” Loewe quotes activists and artists from Causa Justa/Just Cause, Climbing Poetree, and other groups to point out the limitations of self-care and the ways it can actually destabilize movements for more widespread healing transformation.
“Yashna Maya Padamsee, in her article Communities of Care, Organizations of Liberation, writes
“Talking only about self-care when talking about healing justice is like only talking about recycling and composting when speaking on Environmental Justice. It is a necessary and important individual daily practice- but to truly seek justice for the Environment, or to truly seek Healing for our communities, we need to interrupt and transform systems on a broader level.”
I appreciated this comparison to environmental justice work and the lifestyle changes that some liberals like Al Gore recommend in lieu of organized resistance to corporate and military polluters. Yes you can choose to buy second hand items or things “fairly traded” but until there is community organization, larger patterns will not change and the amount of care needed will not be received.
Loewe also takes aim (THANKFULLY) at non-profits:
The crisis of care is also a crisis of organization. Non-profits are built to do a lot of good, but they have inherent limitations that mean they are rarely built to fulfill our visions of the transformative organizing that would usher in a world where we could feel whole. Most engaged in social movements today are originally driven out of either a concrete material necessity and/or a deep connection to the wrong that accompanies inequality and a drive to make it right. However the majority of organizations available to us today are designed for gentle reforms but not the fundamental transformation our spirits crave. As a result, we try to transform a model unfit to nourish our hearts and then treat that frustration with tonics and diets and stretches instead of placing our efforts in creating a collective space that unleashes our heart’s creative desires.
Self-care is often understood in terms of a middle class access to space, time and resources by which a tired professional activist can recharge. But, Loewe asks, if our hearts and spirits are truly in our work why would it be draining? How can we truthfully engage and work towards community care?
“The difference between the strength of a string and a rope is that a rope is a hundred strings.”