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November 21st, 2013

(Note: since writing this, I'm coming to realize this is almost everyone/most organizations that the majority of the members or the founding members are at or above a certain socioeconomic level, and not just UUs.)

If a congregation wants to say that they're truly welcoming to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, they need to truly represent them. They need to not just have food drives for the community… they need to offer food to people in the congregation, and not just "our neighbors" in the surrounding area, as if those people aren't actually part of the church, but rather separate. (As if the church is "In the world, but not of the world"?) Helping to establish social justice needs to start in the home, or rather, in the church, amongst its parishioners. Otherwise poor people will come to your church and feel disenfranchised and leave. They'll feel like you care about strangers in Uganda but not about the people directly in their midst. (This has happened to me directly a number of times. I've been asked to give money when I've been deeply underinsured and desperately needing specific medical care with no organization to give it to me. I mentioned my problem to the regional head of the board for UUs for SJ and the best he could come up with was "we've failed you". No "oh god, that's awful… we'll have a meeting and see what we can do to fill this obvious gap in the system." Just him giving up. Such a position of privilege. Forget me, make me go away, make me be someone else's problem. But I don't have that luxury to give up. This is my life I might lose if I don't get treated. Way to REALLY care about SJ. You fight for the environment but not for a person who came to you with a desperate need.) And it shows that those of higher economic class don't even consider that there are those of lower economic class in their congregations… we poor are left invisible, unseen, unnoticed in UU churches. People are unaware. They are so privileged that it doesn't occur to them that they worship with people not as privileged as them. They assume everyone in the congregation not only, say, has enough to eat and adequate health care coverage, but can afford to give away food and money towards health care coverage in developing countries.

People in poor churches all band together and help each other and are aware of the socioeconomic backgrounds in their churches, but people in rich churches never consider that some there do not have enough and would like to receive some help from those in the Beloved Community. Social Justice isn't something we do to or for other people, but something we do TOGETHER for EACH OTHER. It requires those of higher socioeconomic levels to consider themselves not allies, separate but caring, but rather ONE OF US. It needs to become their struggle too. It needs to mean something to them because it's happening to those they consider equal and the same... one of us, one like us, not separate from us. They take on the struggle of their parishioners because they understand what happens to one of us happens to all of us. That our fights are their fights and vice versa. Social justice is about identifying as a whole and acting as such.

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/14770.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
1.) Any therapist/psychiatrist is NOT better than none at all.
I'm tired of seeing the posts that tell people to go to therapy or find a psychiatrist and that then very clearly insinuate that if you don't, that you aren't working on your mental illness. It's important to have the RIGHT mental health professionals. The wrong ones are a waste of time at best and actively harmful at worst, esp. when we're talking about psychiatry (remember: these folks have the ability to literally change your brain. Their Rx pad & signature is extreme power over you. When improperly used, it can make you end up in the hospital against your will… and if you're committed, you lose a number of rights forever even once you come out.)

Many folks find traditional treatment options to be ineffective. Many folks have been harmed at the hands of the mental heath profession and it's very traumatic for them to even consider going again. Many folks use alternative treatment options instead. Going to therapy or being on meds is one option, one choice. Others use group therapy, peer counseling/support, alternative medicine (herbs, acupuncture, etc.), yoga, tai chi, exercise… there's as many options as their are people. Support someone towards wellness, even if that means not being in therapy at that time. Support their right to not choose that path. Listen to them when they talk about how they've been hurt by it… take their pain seriously.

And that being said...

2.) your mental illness is like any other illness… yours to treat or ignore as you see fit. (Also, it's not all or nothing. most people sit some where in the middle.)
Many people ignore physical problems they're having… that sore knee, that rash, the twitching in their eye. It's their right to do that. It doesn't make them a bad person or not worthy of doing whatever (dating, owning a house, etc.) just because they're not taking care of it. It's the EXACT SAME WAY with mental illness. If someone's not treating it, that's their prerogative. You should do everything possible to not make that the conditions of your dating or relationship or whatever hinge on them taking care of their mental illness in a specific way… or to the amount that you think they should do. Respect their right to get as much or little treatment as they see fit, just as you'd want them to respect that you don't feel like getting that clicking in your elbow looked at. We have the right to do whatever we want and get treated or not get treated or get treated the amount we want.

Now, when it affects you, you have every right to have boundaries. Communication is essential. Maybe you'd rather have couples therapy for learning how to deal with their illness. And it's ok to lovingly and gently say "you know, this really seems to be affecting you. Have you considered that it might be time to get more help? It's totally ok to get more help… no shame! What kinds of help might you want to get?"

This entry was originally posted at http://c4bl3fl4m3.dreamwidth.org/14889.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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