Dalit Freedom Network Canada

Traveling Playfully Down a Broken Road

" Playfulness is, in part, an openness to being a fool, which is a combination of not worrying about competence, not being self - important, not taking norms as sacred, and finding ambiguity and double edges a source of wisdom and delight " - Maria Lugones


I wonder what would change if I consciously inhabited my worlds playfully. Holding in me the deep burdens that come with journeying alongside excluded and broken people, returning daily to my own white-washed, clean, neat, and stable lifestyle on the North Shore, where everything is convenient, accessible, and advantageous, and if it’s not, well, just wait, it will be soon. The tension of my active presence in both of these worlds often disturbs me, perplexes me, saddens me, and frustrates me. Rarely does it move me towards a feeling of playfulness. To honour these emotions and allow them to shape me and give me strength, I begin to wonder what it would look like to move on from anger, fear and guilt, towards a new courage and maturity in which together with my friends from all “worlds” I can start to imagine a new world. 

The traveling has started. Crossing into other people’s worlds. The startled awakening, the breaking of illusions, and the slow process of the melting away of arrogance have begun. The pain is there. The awareness of my own oppressive actions will not go away. What is next? Could it be time to move on from just lamenting the injustices that I see and perpetuate, and to begin to interrupt them with something new? A time to move from guilt to responsibility, and to create, imagine, dream, and live in new ways? To reject the societal norms which damage our most vulnerable members, and to begin to honour those members and create open spaces for their voices to be heard? To find the ambiguities and tensions we find ourselves in a “source of wisdom and delight,” rather than a barrier or weight holding us down? These visions can start to become realities if we acknowledge our learned arrogant perceptions and failures to love, and begin to step into one another’s worlds and allow people into ours, welcoming the different sights, smells, thoughts, and beliefs into our lives with love and humility.

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  • Nate Lepp March 28, 2012
    The tension you've written about here is something I wrestle with as well, Sharlene. Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen have been wonderful writer companions in exploring what it means to turn the paralysis of guilt into gracious action.

    Thanks for sharing, blessings on the road as you journey.

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