A look at race, gender, and community

Tim Kinsella

This from a book about differences that arise between Native and non-Native healers that looks at race, gender & community. Thought it useful in terms of interpreter-to-interpreter relations:

Dances of ego are nothing new. Gossip as a form of peer review performs a useful function until it enters the realm where words become poison instead of antidote. Criticism may arise from and serve connectedness--mutual effort and excellence--or it may distance and compete for ascendancy.

It is frustrating to hear pettiness endlessly bandied about, then note how the ranks close in collective denial about vital issues. To be silent or to squabble when mature communication is needed is to succumb to a loss of perspective.

How can the community serve the well-being of others if practitioners become too caught up in their positions in the elite hierarchy to attend to their work? How can practitioners develop and learn if they are preoccupied with trying to appear infallible? One misstep and enemies close in. Relax your guard and be blindsided.

Shortcuts tempt the beleaguered, and ethics take a beating. This is not the whole picture, of course, but it is an accurate sketch of one part of it.

There are productive ways of dealing with one another about differences. Sometimes a misunderstanding seems almost deliberate--it is easier to write each other off than to make efforts to reach tolerance, if not agreement. If we do not make the effort, we become poor examples. We become more and more locked into our individual positions. Elitism, one-upmanship, racial and gender issues, factionalism, pride, argument over technicalities, and lack of trust or openness are banes of the community. Positive elements include stimulus for growth [and] reduction of characteristic isolation. For the community to flourish, these positive elements need to emerge, not just coincidentally, but through active nurturance whatever our differences, the core of commitment should preempt lesser alignments.

Loren Cruden, from the book Coyote's council fire: Contemporary shamans on race, gender, and community. (1995)


Tim K