I'm psyched for Saturday when I make the trek to Jackson for the (3rd? or 4th?) annual Save Our Community Day. I was there for the very first one, and though it's a long way out there for an east Tennessean, I promised myself that if my friends in the Jackson Chapter of SOCM kept having them, I'd keep going to them.
I remember the first year of the event very well because I was tempted not to give up a Saturday to go all the way out there. It turned into one of those self-arguments in which my mind was coming up with all kinds of reasons to stay home and my heart wouldn't take "stay" for an answer.
I knew it wasn't just about the distance. That year was a big one for SOCM: the group had changed its name from Save Our Cumberland Mountains to Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, and Jackson was the newest and first urban chapter to come to life following SOCM's committment to become a true statewide organization. That meant taking up a transformation process -- an anti-racist journey -- that would lead toward social, economic and environmental justice for all of the awesomely diverse people and communities of Tennessee.
Such a journey is not an easy one, for a person or for a group. It has taken me into territories of mind-body-soul that are uncertain and sometimes downright scary. But for me it's that good kind of scary that lets you keep inching forward, that promises more freedom at the end, and not so much the bad kind that stops you in your tracks. I think the argument I was having with myself before the first Save Our Community Day really had more to do with the uncertainty than with the time and distance.
So, my annual trek to Jackson really has roots in my life-long desire for justice -- for an end to exploitation and oppression of people and nature -- on planet Earth. Once I get there, I find all kinds of folks who want the same thing, for themselves and for many generations after us. And because of that, we have a really fun day together.
When I started writing this post, I thought about a book I keep back here in the room where I write and meditate. It's called The Four-fold Way: Walking the Paths of Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary, written by Angeles Arrien. Driving out to Jackson that first year, I thought about it too -- especially about the first path or principle that Arrien explores.
The first principle of this Four-fold Way -- that of the Warrior -- is about showing up, or choosing to be present. I was relating to this principle very literally: to be there in Jackson or not to be there was the question that year. At another level, the path of the warrior, says Arrien, is about the right use of energy to empower oneself and others.
This particular Four-fold idea is at the heart of SOCM's three-fold path of social, economic and environmental justice to eMpower people and communities in Tennessee, thus, it was a really auspicious principle to have operating in relation to my trek to Jackson for Save Our Community Day. The challenge of the Warrior has also been a very important one for me in this lifetime, and I feel very blessed to have found an organization and group of people with which my exploration of this path can be mutual in many respects.
So, no, I don't argue with myself about going to Jackson anymore. I'll be there. Here's a video featuring my fellow warrior, Martha, with an invitation for you to be there too. Use links with the video or use the linked image in the sidebar for more info.