The Dance for Equality: One Billion Rising for Justice

The Dance for Equality: One Billion Rising for Justice

Imagine what the world would look like if we all stayed present to love 365 days of the year. And not just love for another person, but love for all beings, big love at a meta level, love for community and all life on Earth. That would be something. Remember that catchy phrase about it being “Earth Day every day?” Well, I think the same should be true for Valentine’s Day.

We can turn up the love this week and participate in what may turn out to be the largest unified day of action in global history, One Billion Rising for Justice. You might have heard about or participated in last year’s events, launched by author and activist Eve Ensler, where more than one billion people in 207 countries marched, rallied and actually mostly danced to demand an end to violence against women and girls. Check out the short video showing scenes from last year. I seem to tear up every time I watch it.

This year’s ‘risings’ as they are called, are expanding in scope to really go for the big love. The justice theme illuminates intersectionalities, the places where violence against women meets economic injustice, racial and gender injustice and environmental injustice.

It was great to learn about these events, as I’ve had justice on my mind lately. I could say I’ve had justice on my heart actually, weighing heavily as I have come to understand more about intersectionality—the ways in which inequity and injustice are interconnected—and to attempt to understand how to do my part in the quest for equity. We have to learn and understand first. Usually folks say the next step is then to act. I’m grateful for a chance to make the next step a dance step, because, well, this stuff can be painful and confusing. To come together, on Valentine’s Day, in love, in joy, in dance, feels like a great way to muster some fierce commitment to then step out as a community and take up the work.

The quest for justice, whether for personal or planetary wrongdoing, is a challenging dance. Nelson Mandela’s recent passing has inspired me to learn more about ‘Restorative Justice,’ a phenomenal peacemaking process used by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of apartheid. Restorative Justice aims for deep healing. Far more than most conventional forms of punishment, it is about remedying the harm caused by an offense, and addressing the healing of all involved and touched by the injustice, from individuals to whole communities.

Restorative Justice recognizes that there are a number of truths to be aired for true healing to occur: the ‘factual’ or ‘forensic’ truth of what happened; the ‘personal’ and ‘narrative’ truths (the stories of both victims and perpetrators); the ‘social’ or ‘dialogue’ truth, a truth that comes from discussion, debate and interaction; and finally the ‘healing’ or ‘restorative’ truth, which brings these truths and facts together in the context of human relationships, and allows an honoring, remembrance and healing to be possible.

We were all told growing up to tell the truth, as if there was just one. And as regular readers know, part of my New Year’s resolution is a pledge to say what must be said, to tell my truth. But now Restorative Justice has me thinking about the various multiple truths that need to be told, by me, and by others, as we work for deep healing. I’ll be pondering these truths as I rise in Santa Barbara, CA this Valentine’s Day, and I’ll hope you’ll find an event near you and join me in the dance.

Photo Credit: Paula Allen for V-Day

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