The Antidotes to Privilege – Transcending Labels
Then he (Jesus) turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you SEE this woman?” – Luke 7:44
I grew up in the Jesus tradition. What you might call Evangelical Christianity. And while I now like to say that Jesus and I are in an open relationship, this verse recently came to mind during one of my many therapy sessions with those from marginalized populations (e.g., people of color, or those from the LGBTQ+ community etc).
There’s a subtle yet POWERFUL nuance in that line that often gets overlooked in the drama of the Son of God having his feet washed by a prostitute who’s using her hair and the most expensive thing she likely owned (perfumed oil).
Christ turns to look at the scorned woman yet is speaking directly to Peter.
Now why would he do that??
To drive his point home.
Peter couldn’t see past his own privilege. All he saw was Mary’s profession.
When we label someone, we blind ourselves.
We no longer see their humanity. The fingerprint of the Divine upon them. Our shared connections.
Once you label me you negate me. ~ Soren Kierkegaard
Faggot, Nigger, Tranny, Mutant, Dyke, Fat, Crazy, Stupid, Whore, Worthless………
The list could go on forever, couldn’t it?
Honestly doesn’t matter what they called you. You were LABELED. OTHER’ed.
And once on the outside, life can get pretty damn lonely.
But you see….we ALL have our others. Sometimes they simply take on the face of those that hurt us. We turn our backs and place them on the outside.
It hurts too much to try and remember they bear the mark of the divine just like we do. Problem is, they forgot. And now we start to forget too. Their blindness becomes our blindness.
We forget who we are. SACRED. LOVED.
Precious one, hear me today. You must wake back up to the reality of who you REALLY ARE.
THE GOLDEN BUDDHA
Let me tell you a story I heard on one of Tara Brach’s podcasts:
Over three hundred years ago, the Burmese army planned an attack to invade Thailand. At the time, the country was known as Siam. The Siamese monks were in possession of the most amazing Buddha statue. The statue is over 10 feet tall and weighs in excess of 2 1/2 tons. It is made of solid gold and is valued today at $200 MILLION dollars.
The monks were determined to protect the shrine that meant so much to them. While it was priceless to them for reasons that transcend money; they knew that the Burmese would stop at nothing to steal the statue because of its tremendous monetary value. They covered the Golden Buddha with 12 inches of clay knowing that the warriors would totally ignore it and think it worthless. Sadly, the monks were slaughtered in the invasion and the secret of the Golden Buddha stayed hidden for two centuries. The Buddha itself though, remained safe.
In the mid 50’s, a monastery was to be relocated to make room for a new highway. The monks arranged for a crane to come and move the “Clay” Buddha to its new location. When the crane started to lift the statue, it was much heavier than expected and it began to crack. Wanting to protect the priceless shrine, the monks lowered it back down and decided to wait until the next day to bring more powerful equipment. To add insult to injury, the rains came so the monks lovingly covered the statue with tarps to keep the moisture away.
In the dark of night, the head monk took his flashlight and went out to make sure the Buddha was adequately covered. When the light of the flashlight shone into the crack of the clay, he saw a glimmer…a reflection of something underneath that shroud of clay. He immediately started to carefully chisel away shards of clay to find that the glimmer grew brighter. Hours later, and all the clay removed…he was in the presence of a Buddha made of solid gold. It now resides in The Temple of the Golden Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand. Every year, millions of people go there to see this magnificent work of art and to worship at his feet. And to think, it may never have been uncovered…
(taken from – Close2Bliss)
TIME FOR AN UNVEILING
It is time to remove the dust and caked on grime thrown at you by others. It is time to remove the protective covering you yourself may have used to cope.
The ancient Hebrews had a word for this – T’shuvah (תשובה); to return. While I personally believe modern day Christianity has warped the context into a bullying sort of hellfire and brimstone, many scholars believe its meaning lies more within the concept of waking back up; realizing that you have gotten away from that which you value and hold sacred and start back.
It’s just baby steps; one foot in front of the other back to warmth; to connection; to authenticity. As Enigma would say, a “return to innocence.”
You are NOT YOUR LABELS.
You are NOT YOUR HISTORY.
Your parent’s history.
Your defense mechanisms.
You are what lies within.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara Powell, LMHC is a licensed therapist, university psychology instructor, and empowerment coach who believes life should be lived as a journey that is “anything but ordinary.”
Her private practice is specialized to help individuals break free from toxic cycles of distress, dysfunction, and dissatisfaction with life that are created when trying to live according to someone else’s rules. Only by living what she calls radical autonomy, can one obtain soul nourishing relationships and a sense of true life purpose and inner peace.
If you’re interested in working with her, either in person or online, you can learn more about her services here.