These are the special ingredients to the food we cook up for and with youth each Saturday at our local youth shelter; the ingredients of non-judgment and unconditionality. At our local youth shelters we find those of us who may be at an important turning point in a hard journey. This is an opportunity to share in connection through a simple experience of cooking, baking, and eating together. Understanding many of us have experienced similar paths through broken families, abuse, trauma, substance use, disconnection, distrust, hunger, and of course old fashioned oppression.
If we are going to promote positive change, we must recognise the problem of our societal narratives. That these narratives are ‘cliche’ but also dangerously self-fulfilling and insidious (not to mention stigmatising). Narratives like ‘dangerous criminal’, the ‘homeless person’, narratives of the ‘mental person’, the ‘drug addict’, the ‘drug dealer’, the ‘gang banger’ and so on and so on. Not to deny that at times such behaviour or symptoms can exist, however more importantly we must see first the person and the context of the person (in which one size does not fit all). Just because a person did that, or does that, does not necessarily make them that ‘type’ of person – they are many reasons for behaviours/symptoms and mistakes do happen in life. Instead, if we can raise awareness and see how when we adopt such narratives (either for ourselves or in how we see each other) what we are doing is participating in oppression; oppression of both ourselves and others.
Without such narratives it is easy to feel a little crazy – and it is quite normal to be a little crazy in a world of such breakneck change. To dismantle narratives of oppression (in how we view ourselves and each other) is to be aware of our being-ness as unlimited and not limited to social character roles (and other status-quos) as put forward by and through dominant systems of control (i.e., the criminal-justice system, the media, moral-enthusiasts, the pharmacracy … just to name a few). To be aware of our being-ness (outside of stigmatising labels) is a powerful step in growing into a personhood of power. Importantly there are mini-steps that we can take. For example;
(1) growing positive relations with those of us who share in our experience – this is to be there for each other and one self in genuine ways that count.
(2) Accepting one’s own authentic self, person, and history – this is understanding who one as situated in the present moment – separate from a past that is now over and importantly facing a positive future that is about to happen to the real self (not the false self of broken images of how others saw or may see us).
As Eric Fromm wrote “It means to wake up, to shed illusions, fictions, and lies, to see reality as it is. The person who wakes up is the liberated person, the person whose freedom cannot be restricted either by others or by oneself.” (Fromm & Suzuki, 1960) What better way to wake up and live in truth than through a kindness containing non-judgement and unconditionality and a little good food for and with both ourselves and each other.
We wish you all happy living in the truth.