“It is easy to assume that everyone lives as we live and thinks as we think. It whispers that anyone who is Not Like Us must not be trying hard enough.” – Sustainable|Slow|Stylish
I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the slow movement and wanted to acknowledge the elephant in the room when talking about the well-intentioned notion of “un-limiting” our time and resources to #bemindful.
That elephant is quite simply: privilege.
Let’s be very honest. The majority of people (myself included) talking about the slow movement are well-educated, upper-middle-class white people. I don’t believe this means that those of us adopting a “slow lifestyle” are bad or wrong. I do believe, though, that it means all of us who are able to consider this lifestyle must be mindful of the privilege that comes with being able to disconnect, to log-off, to travel, to be an eco-consumer, to eat well, to access parenting resources, to afford luxury design (Pottery Barn counts) . . . and to SLOW down life’s pace enough to have time to “be mindful”.
I work at a non-profit that connects young people experiencing homelessness with their next steps in life, whether they be a shelter, a shower, an internship, or an apartment. Their worlds move FAST, and they are busy. These young people work multiple shift jobs, survive on meager salaries, go without healthcare, live in violent neighborhoods, catch public transportation (often riding for hours to get to shelter or work), and—often—go to college as well.
They’d love to be able to slow down, to buy and cook with fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market, to enjoy a leisurely Sunday at the zoo with their family, to choose to utilize public transportation. But the reality is, they can’t afford or access these privileges—literally or figuratively. They don’t have the luxury of pondering how to spend their days, because the shelter lets out at 6am, and if they aren’t back by 4pm they may miss getting a bed at all. And, yes, the vast majority of the young people who access our services are young people of color.
The issues surrounding inequality are incredibly complex, and I won’t even pretend to be able to address them in a 500-word blog post. But, that doesn’t mean I get a pass at not talking about it.
The beauty of blogging is that blogs have a voice and an audience. Bloggers typically reach others who have the means and connections that can be leveraged to make changes in their communities.
We also have two ears for listening. And we have to listen. That includes getting out from behind our computers and cameras, and making a point to be a part of conversations that will probably make us uncomfortable.
That is the responsibility that comes with wanting to be a force for positive change.
We can do better. We must do better. Slow doesn’t have to be about privilege. Together let’s change our cozy version of what a “mindfulness movement” looks like, so that it embraces all cultures—not just our own.
“Privilege does not operate without silence.” – Junot Diaz