Sacred Leadership, White Privilege And Shadow Work
There has been a lot of noise around white privilege and racism in the last few weeks. Ooh that’s tricky and uncomfortable! I have been sitting with this for the last fortnight wondering why I am struggling to comment on this.
So my background is that I was born in South Africa during the Apartheid era. In primary school in Johannesburg we did riot and bomb drills due to the Soweto riots. By the time I was at University, it was the state of emergency. I attended a lot of funerals, there were days when we left the university library only to be confronted by tear gas, army troops or police wielding guns and sjambocks (leather whips). Once a friend was arrested waiting for a bus at a bus stop!
Nelson Mandela was released from prison on my 22nd birthday. The second time I voted it was the first time black South Africans were allowed to vote. What an emotional time it was!
I moved to Australia when I was 30 years old and that came with grief, relief and guilt. Lots of mixed emotions. Leaving the country of your birth isn’t easy.
My sisters and I are completing the Third Level studies (July 2019 cohort) at the Institute for Intuitive Intelligence, and have been grappling with the challenges around addressing our white privilege within the framework of our spirituality. It’s tricky because it is complex and subtle.
For me the only way to address it is as follows:
1. Spiritual Leadership is about how we are in the world. It is our actions.
2. This can only be dealt with at the level of the impersonal. A lot of Caroline Myss’ work revolves around our spiritual symbolic sight being impersonal. When we take this personally it is mixed with our emotions and becomes more tricky to deal with. Also systemic racism can be elusive to recognise. If we take it personally with defensiveness, we cannot lead effectively.
3. Again, Caroline Myss often refers to power in her work, and in particular power of choice. This is where our power is. We have the power to choose our response.
I personally have a problem when spiritual friends only want to love and light and forgive problems away. I do believe in oneness, and yes we do need to work at the 5D level. Guiltlessness, forgiveness and love all the way. I have no issue with that.
Where I become uncomfortable is when that is where it stops. So to give an analogy…let’s say I were faced with an abused woman who has broken ribs but I can’t see this because she is neatly dressed and well groomed. But she tells me that she is afraid to go home in case her partner kills her. If I respond that she is to forgive him and herself and just raise her vibration, that is gas-lighting. It just shows that we haven’t done the real work. She can do all of that, but being discerning in our actions is also where our responsibility lies.
There is so much talk of shadow work in spirituality, and to me addressing my white privilege is shadow work. It is not only about love and light and raising our vibration. Yes, we need to do that, but I believe we also need to take action in the 3D world.
However, that action may have to be within the scope of what we can take action on. So for example, when Victor Frankl was in a Nazi concentration camp he could only survive by doing the internal work. That was all he had scope and freedom to take action on. Whereas when Nelson Mandela was released, his scope was broader. He worked at the 5D level and forgave, but he had the freedom to also take compassionate action at the 3D level also.
It is my personal belief that without compassionate action within the scope that we are free to work within, we are effectively gas-lighting. To paraphrase Trudi Lebron, if we are not actively anti-racist, we are effectively racist.
So where do we start? The first step is the shadow work. Unpacking and understanding what white privilege looks like. And then doing the work with those trained in this field to make sure that we are congruent in our actions also. We can’t only love and light it away, that is not enough in my opinion.
So if you’re wondering how to identify what white privilege is, have a look at the 50 questions to ask yourself in this article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. It might be a good place to start if you are not already doing the work.
Then educate yourself and take action (with love and light of course).
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