The Problem Is, It’s All Connected

While I respect that we all have varying political views, one thing that I draw a hard line on is when social justice/ human rights issues are turned into political ones. I do not view human rights as political, though many in positions of power seem to. Ideas that would deprive people of their rights to live and to seek happiness are not justifiable. Centrist ideas that acknowledge that human rights should be protected while not seeking to take actions that would do so, is also something I find issue with. If you’re willing to stand by while people are hurting and you have the power to help them, you’re part of the problem.

This is part of why ignoring issues that may not affect oneself can lead to systemic harm. One example of this is with environmental protection. An episode in the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale highlighted this particular example. It can be said that it doesn’t matter what else humans do, if the earth becomes uninhabitable. While this is true, such a line of thinking, if taken to an extreme, can give way to fascist ideas ¹ that cause the loss of human rights. This is particularly a danger when religious extremists or white supremacists become involved. It can become far too easy for fascists to turn a movement that should be good for humankind (along with all other life on earth) into one that causes harm to many.

While the country is fighting for environmental protection, we should also be fighting for the myriad of other issues that also matter. These issues are all intersectional. For example, those living in poverty ² or who live in primarily BIPOC communities ³ are at greater risk of being subjected to health issues caused by a lack of environmental protections. Without affordable healthcare, they are also at greater risk of not being able to seek out healthcare when environmental issues make them sick. Because of this, to truly believe that the government should focus only on a single issue would be incredibly short sighted.

This also applies to other movements. Black, Indigenous, and other communties of color are at greater risk of poverty due to systemic racism. Therefore, actions to end poverty should also take racist policies into account. The fight for feminism has won women’s rights, but has also often excluded the concerns of BIPOC women and transgender/ nonbinary people. In recent news, trans exclusionary extremists have co-opted feminism and fed into the rise of transphobia. This puts black trans women in even greater danger of discrimination due to systemic racism combined with transphobia. None of the movements that our society needs in order to progress exist within a vaccuum. What happens in one can create a chain reaction.

While we are all limited in what we can do as individuals, the society that we live in is made up of many different people, organizations, and professions which can each center their focus on the problem they are most equipped to solve. A position stating that any issue is less important because it only affects a certain group of people often comes from a place of privilege. I would even dare to say that, in worst cases, it can come from an alarming lack of empathy for what others may be going through in the here and now. The United States is dealing with ongoing problems rooted in fascism: racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, religious extremism, classism, ableism, etc. People are already dying. We can not afford to prioritize one thing over everything else. Our society must take advantage of the resources that we have to ensure that all of these issues, all of which matter, can be addressed. The problem with picking only one issue to care about? It’s all connected.

(Though I mentioned The Handmaid’s Tale, it should be noted that the book/ show is problematic due to the historical treatment of BIPOC in the U.S. )

Further Reading:

¹ What is Ecofascism and Why It Has No Place in Environmental Progress by Nikita Shukla,

² Poverty and the Environment by Anup Shah, Global Issues.

³ Environmental racism – the deliberate poisoning of BIPOC by Amaya McDonald, The Statesman.

⁴ Poverty, Racism and the Public Health Crisis in America by Laurie Fickman, University of Houston.,-racism-and-the-public-health-crisis-in-america.php

⁵ What Is Intersectional Feminism? by Olivia Guy-Evans, Simply Sociology.

⁶ Why ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Problematic by Kiarran T.L. Diaz, Black Feminist Collective.

(Disclaimer: A previous incarnation of this post was misinterpreted as being an attack on an individual’s character, so the post was removed until I could properly edit it. I acknowledge that the misinterpetation was due to poor writing and carelessness on my part to ensure that the intent was fully clear to others.)


Speaking Up Matters

There have been increasing numbers of typically non-political groups and public pages on social media that now frequently post political news articles, memes, and other such things. With support for Black Lives Matter gaining traction so quickly in recent weeks, we are seeing more voices rise up against racism, white supremacy, and police brutality. These are human rights issues. In the United States, they are also deemed to be political issues.

It is common for people to confuse politics and social justice. After all, politics greatly affect society and justice. At some point, it is true that injustice must be fought against via political means. However, human rights are much bigger than “just” politics. Voting on whether tax money should be used to fund a new park is not the same as protesting against systemic racism.

With that said, some of the spirituality-based groups and public pages that I follow have been inundated with complaints about their recent political posts. Today, I read several people on one such page say that they think spiritual groups should focus on enlightenment and our spiritual practices. I found it shocking that anyone could consider themself spiritual and still not see the importance of human rights. I was surprised that anyone could work with any of the same gods that I do and not view speaking up against injustice as a necessity. I was saddened that Pagans and witches can fail to see the importance of fighting against oppression. I am sure that it’s a product of my privilege to be able to feel surprised about such opinions, just as much as it’s a product of their privilege to be able to ignore human rights issues.

Spirituality should not be limited only to the privileged. Those of us who have the privilege to speak up need to do so. How can Heathenry, Paganism, and witchcraft be inclusive if black, indigenous, and people of color are made to feel that they don’t belong? How can we help them to feel like they are welcome in our communties if we don’t speak up against the very things that harm them and their communities? How can we help them to feel welcome when people who don’t see them as equal humans are still allowed in our spaces?

I can’t claim to have all the answers. I can’t and won’t try to speak for people of color. What I can do is continue to educate myself and use the voice that I have to hold my communities accountable.