Service in an Intersectional World
By Rev. Andrea Goodman
We live in an interconnected world where suffering is visible at every turn and screen shot. I was reminded of the word, intersectionality, at the recent Women’s March on Washington that helps describe our common humanity. Intersectionality generally means that we are complex human beings, with many self-identifications and needs that overlap or intersect with others. It could be gender, race and religion. It could be the need for clean water and air. We feel called to respond to the needs of people, to people of all faiths and none; to be of service because their needs are our needs, and our needs are their needs.
Our faith traditions reinforce our human desire and need to minimize suffering where and for whom we can.
Judaism: Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world”. It suggests humanity’s shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world.
Buddhism: Engaged Buddhism refers to Buddhists who seek ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental, and economic suffering and injustice.
Christianity: As Christians give of themselves to God, they follow Jesus’ gift of himself to humanity as a reason to be of service to those in need.
Islamism: Muslims’ primary goal is to worship Allah, and doing service for humanity is a profound act of worship.
Hinduism: Seva is a Sanskrit word that means more than just service or to serve. It means to serve selflessly.
A simple but profound spiritual practice that you may like to try is to notice when your heart opens and closes to suffering. This can be done as you go about your day or in reflection at day’s end. Is my heart open to the suffering I see, or is it closed? Then inquire how you feel in each state. Are you happy and proud when your heart is open? Do you berate yourself because your heart is closed? I appeal to you to be gentle and compassionate with yourself, either way. This interior work provides an authentic framework for service for the benefit of all.
Just as I want to be peaceful and safe,
may you be peaceful and safe.