Politics and practice for an era not yet fully arrived become more clear through experiencing them together and through our attempts to explain them to each other. They take shape through contemporary thought, daily struggles we experience and witness, and social movement.
From these phenomena we can learn much about where we will need to go - who we will need to learn how to collectively become - if we are to survive the morass of social and environmental challenges facing humankind.
Along the way, guideposts are clues; they are markers we see and can return to as we make our way in new terrain. Likewise, mapping is an action word, as in the act of mapping. I engage in the act of mapping not because I know what the map looks like, but because I don't know what the terrain looks like.
We can follow in the steps of those who came before us. We can look to and learn from those who are actively engaged in this work today. And we will piece it together as we go. As the most prominent educators for social change in the 20th Century so aptly have said, this type of learning requires making the road while walking.
Historical mapping: how the meaning of "change" is changing over time
Mapping of forces: finding each other in unknown territory
The meaning of democracy is changing and deepening. Participation in democratic processes happens through legislative politics and in the multiple and diverse communities of which we are a part. The protection and deepening of democratic practice requires nothing less than creating a culture capable of building a society of individual and collective well-being.
Cultural work and cultural workers have great potential influence in this political landscape. And in this age of culture creation, there are many different kinds of cultural workers. They include those who are committed to transforming and surpassing theories and practices built on colonization, racism and environmental destruction. They are committed to participate as intentionally and responsibly as possible in the collective rite of passage that leads to possibilities for a shared future of well-being. Finding each other and understanding our relationships to each other across the divides and divisions of our current system is a crucial part of the work.
Principles, practices and institutions
Politics are the principles, practices and institutions that shape and are shaped by the relationships between Self and Other that guide our actions.
Winona LaDuke, an internationally acclaimed Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, author and orator is famously quoted as saying: “We don’t want a bigger piece of the pie, we want a different pie.”
Baking a different pie requires a different recipe. Whether we do so consciously or not, we are engaged in a pivotal moment for determining the basic ingredients of this new pie, of new ways of seeing and being in the world.
Awareness of the transformative collective process we're in is what allows us to participate in it as consciously and effectively as possible: In this human, social pie, our relationships between the Self and Other are the building blocks of our sciences, spiritualities, social systems, and human systems.