65. Spirituality and Ancestral Accountability w. Sadlord777


Mexie sits down with community activist and YouTuber, Sadlord777, for a captivating conversation about our spiritual journeys, the import of spirituality in political and community organizing, navigating tradition as a white settler on Turtle Island, and ancestral accountability.

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F1:  [MUSIC] How can we not only discover more compassionate relations with human beings but how can we develop compassionate relations with the other creatures with whom we share this planet?

F2:  There’s an us before the wound, there’s an us before oppression, and to me pleasure is the way that we tap down into that.

F3:  We live in capitalism.  Its power seems inescapable.  So did the divine right of kings.

MEXIE: Hello, everyone.  Welcome to the Vegan Vanguard.  It is Mexie and today we have an amazing talk that I had with my friend and comrade here in Ontario.  They are a YouTuber, Sadlord777, and they make fantastic videos.  They also make fantastic zines, so definitely go check them out.  But, we had a really fantastic conversation about spirituality and leftism and the import of spirituality in political and community organizing and how it has been important for each of us and shaped our journeys.  We also talk a lot about grappling with tradition, especially in the context of whiteness and being a settler here on Turtle Island and not really being connected, necessarily, to our ancestral traditions, but also still having that ancestral accountability that we need to reckon with as settlers here, again, on Turtle Island.

I just thought it was such a fantastic conversation.  Sadlord777 is so brilliant and interesting and amazing and we wanted to having this conversation because these are topics that we feel are not really broached much on the left.  There’s kind of a real hard line drawn between the material and the immaterial, the political and anything that’s spiritual, emotional, or anything else like that.  As we talk about in the discussion, we think it’s largely a false dichotomy and that these are really important topics to discuss, too.  So, before we get into it, I would like to thank the new patrons, so thank you so much to Jill Mikkelsen and Eric Daniels.  This is a donor-funded show, so if you would like to become a sustaining member, you can go to patreon.com/veganvanguard or give us a one-time donation via PayPal on our website which is veganvanguardpodcast.com.

Sharing the episodes with friends and family also goes a long way, as does giving us ratings and reviews on iTunes or any other podcast app that you listen to us on.  That really goes a long way, so thank you to everyone who has done that.  For just two dollars per month, you can get access to the Total Liberation Discord server that I co-host with Kathrin and Mad Blender, and we have just a really awesome community over there.  We do bi-monthly political chats that you can join in on, so yeah, check it out.  But without further ado, let’s get into this discussion.

LANE: Hello.  So, my name is Lane and my channel is Sadlord777.  I am a YouTuber who’s been making videos on a bunch of different topics for a number of years.  I originally started out as a trans-tube channel and just making videos about gender identity and trans issues, and then transitioned to making videos about anti-fascism, and then transitioned into making videos about community organizing and spirituality.  So, right now I make videos about a bunch of different things that are kind of both oriented around community organizing and actual tactics and strategies for that, and making videos about spirituality and personal development and cultural reconnection and things of that nature.  I am — just to position myself, I am a white trans person.

I am a settler living in traditional Haudenosaunee territory and I am a person of I guess Celtic and Anglo-Saxon descent, like Scots, and English, and Irish descent.  That is where I’m coming at — this conversation’s from.

MEXIE: Awesome.  Please check out Sadlord777.  Their channel is amazing.  So, if you are watching this on Sadlord’s channel, hi, I am Mexie and I have a YouTube channel here called Mexie, M-E-X-I-E.  I also have a podcast which is the Vegan Vanguard, and I actually started my channel as a vegan channel but I’ve long since deleted those videos.  I still do make animal liberation content or content oriented around total liberation, so animal and human liberation, ecology, decolonization, anti-capitalism, all of that good stuff.  I am also a settler.  I am living in the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Ojibwe, the Wendake peoples, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit.

I’ve been a spiritual person for quite a long time but I guess we’ll get into it today that, I don’t know, I haven’t felt super comfortable or confident talking about it all publicly, mostly because of white women appropriating everything and being terrible but yeah, I’m really looking forward to having this conversation so I guess why don’t we start off with talking about why spirituality is important; why it’s important to you and your political organizing, and maybe why you think it’s important in general when it comes to political and community organizing.

LANE: Yeah, so for me, my entry-point to things is like, I was actually raised in a house that was pretty atheist and almost leaning towards some paganism stuff.  But definitely my immediate family was pretty opposed to Christianity and pretty opposed to organized religion in every way.  Not like militantly but they had atheist politics and opinions, and that was kinda the environment in which I was raised.  So, I actually joined the Anglican Church a few years ago, maybe four years ago.  Don’t quote me on that.  My reason for getting involved with the church was that I started from a place of doing anarchist organizing, so I was really involved in anti-fascism in Toronto, anti-racist solidarity organizing, trans liberation organizing, and climate justice.

From that standpoint, I wound up having some interactions with faith community organizers where I realized that they just had something.  People who are organized — organizing from a faith basis just seemed to have some level of emotional and spiritual security that I really did not have at the time and I was really, really struggling with being able to stay grounded when I was entering a new political environment that was so stressful and so combative.  I really think I had some — oh, I have to plug my computer — I have to plug my computer in.

MEXIE: No worries.

LANE: I’ll be right back.  Anyway, so getting back to it, I had some experiences that were pretty difficult to deal with and pretty traumatic when I got into direct action-style organizing.  I felt just extremely un-moored and un-grounded in the work that I was doing, especially because to be honest, activist communities can be pretty toxic in and of themselves and really feeling that kind of, I don’t know, I guess competitiveness and adversarialness and disposability and things like that that can really take root on the left as they can in any human space.  I’m definitely not trying to position Christian community as being perfect either, but it really — to look in on a community that I feel like is more grounded in values than ideology I think was really a big shift for me.

Then also getting into conversations around — my entry-point to politics was kinda through trans liberation and then shifting my focus to anti-fascism, anti-racism, and ultimately decolonial solidarity which is kind of the focus of my organizing at this point.  Yeah, just realizing how atheistic the left was and almost militantly atheistic, and how there were a lot of communities of faith who were doing — organizing better than secular leftist organizers were doing.  I had a friend who said to me, there are some churches that do anarchism better than anarchists, and — because they have resources.  They have soup kitchens, they have drop-in centers, they have networks of support.  Churches — I’m not saying this with every church but I’m saying of some radical and left-leaning churches really look after their membership and check in on each other and don’t have that kind of disposability energy to them.

So, that was really inspiring to me.  Then when I started to really build my consciousness as a settler and learning about what it means to be a settler, what it means to be living on indigenous land, what it means to be complicit in colonization, I kind of had this political shift where I was like, I am implicated in the church whether or not I want to be, and there’s a lot of ancestral accountability that needs to happen, and that was kind of the focus — or that was a motivating factor that also kind of moved me towards involvement in the church of like, I am a person and based on my position in the world, I am prioritized by the church.  Like, my existence here in Canada was facilitated by the church whether I opt into participation in that or identify with that or not.

My existence is still deeply tied up — and my ancestry and my history is deeply tied up with the history of the church.  So, I realized that — separately from that realization I also realized I really, really needed some spiritual grounding in my life and through exploring different things; I did some reading in Tibetan Buddhism and some — just kind of like a mish-mash of spiritual content and came across this idea that there’s a lot of different paths to the same conclusion.  There’s a lot of different modes through which to reach spiritual liberation or enlightenment or whatever you feel like calling it.  But the important thing is to stick to a path, not have this grab-bag mentality that we kind of have in the West, but to be able to commit to a tradition where you are committed to and open to you struggling with that and embracing the full, complicated reality of it rather than just picking what feels nice from a bunch of different things.

I felt really pulled towards wanting to at least explore a relationship to Christianity and a relationship to the church both for those spiritual reasons and political reasons.  When I first attended my church in Toronto which is a very, very radical, left-leaning church that has lots of queer and trans members and it’s a very, very mixed-race congregation as well which is not very common, I had such a profound experience there and such a profound reaction to that community, like a community that was based on acceptance and forgiveness and a shared political and spiritual and moral ethos that I became very involved in that.  I feel like faith-based organizing became the center of my organizing after that, which is not to say that that is the be all and end all of my spiritual reality, because I’m also — I feel like I just feel very, very called towards ancestral work and very, very called towards decolonial solidarity.

For me, that looks like being involved with and being accountable for the actions of the Anglican Church and the community around the Anglican Church.  But I am also really deeply involved in exploration of Celtic traditions and pre-Christian traditions from the British Isles which is my ancestry as well, going back before Christianity.  My relationship to Christianity is definitely not simple but I feel like since I’ve made that move towards faith-based organizing, I have had just a number of really deep shifts in myself, around my thinking, around how I participate in politics.  I think the biggest thing has been making the shift from political ideology to values because I feel like when I was an anarchist and I was an atheistic militant anarchist, which I still am kind of a militant anarchist, but I kind of had this perspective of you know, screw anybody else and any other political ideology.

I only organize with anarchists and I only organize with anarchists who have this specific anarchist identity.  I came to real — I was so disappointed in people and in community when I was organizing in that way where I needed other people to call themselves anarchists.  That really became incredibly unproductive and I became incredibly disappointed in a lot of the people I met and interactions that I had which is not to say anything about anarchists, but it’s just to say that you don’t necessary have similar values or ethics just because you have a shared political ideology.  I found that I would much rather organize with people that shared my values regardless of what their leftist inclination was, whether they were even openly a leftist or a closeted leftist or something like that.  I’ve even organized with liberals depending on what the thing is, and as long as people are really passionate and compassionate and share my priorities, that is so much more important to me than how a person identifies or anything like that.

MEXIE: Yeah.  I love that you said that; just the difference between values and ideology ‘cause I think that ties into a lot of what I’ve been thinking about in terms of this really false dichotomy that we draw between the material, the immaterial, the spiritual, political, especially as you said in left wing spaces that can be very militantly atheistic or even just anti-spiritual, anti-anything immaterial, right?  I think that it’s really interesting to me because — I mean, again, I think that’s a completely false dichotomy.  I think the spiritual is always political for a number of reasons, but I think that spirituality and worldview and the way that we understand ourselves, the world, and others, and how all those things interact, that is always political.

It’s kind of like when people who support the status quo but don’t think that they have a political ideology.  It’s like no, you do have an ideology; it’s capitalist.  You’re just not aware of it because it’s so normalized that it’s like pure ideology; you’re not able to see it.  I feel this — yeah.  But I almost feel the same way about spirituality where it’s like, I think there are a lot of people and leftists as well that — they might not think that they have a spiritual practice or that they have a spiritual identity or worldview, but I think that that in itself is kind of a spiritual worldview, right?  I think that in the West and especially in capitalist countries, we do have this broader spiritual worldview and in that, it is very humans are separate from nature, humans have dominion over nature, and development of nature is what we should be doing.

There’s these baked-in ideas of hierarchy and anthropocentrism and ideas that our stories as humans are the most important stories and they just happen on this backdrop of our other relations, and that nature is resource and we don’t have a broader understanding of our relationship or even our place within the broader universe, right?  It can be very individualistic and kind of self-centered.  We lose sight of so much.  Anyway, I hope this is kind of making sense, this idea that — it’s kind of like the pure ideology of spirituality where I think a lot of people don’t understand that you do have a worldview and it is implicated by broader spiritual beliefs that you might not even be aware that you have.  I think that a good example of this — I always shout out Robin Wall Kimmerer, but — Robin Wall Kimmerer shout out.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, she talks about the difference between Skywoman’s story and the story of Eve, but I thought that the way that she was talking about the way that we interpret that societally and the implications that has for the way that we behave was really powerful in terms of the Skywoman’s story really engendering an ethic and a behavior and a way of moving through the world that was based around reciprocity, and then the way that we interpret a lot of — especially how it’s been interpreted in right wing spaces, but the way that we’ve interpreted a lot of Western Christian values have been stretched or co-opted by capital and hierarchy and things like that.

So, I just think that yeah, the way that we understand society, like the way that we have this broader spiritual worldview affects the way that we behave, and that’s always gonna be political.  So, yeah, I think that’s also partly why — and I’ve talked about this before — that I think a lot of leftists’ vision for the future remains kind of Eurocentric or remains in a lot of ways, like, we can end up replicating a lot of these same systems in our organizing because we don’t have that cohesive worldview.  We might understand implicitly that a lot of the discourses that go along with this kind of settler colonial capitalist worldview are messed up, but without having any kind of broader, more cohesive practice or spiritual vision or set of values — maybe it’s just the values; without having that more cohesive practice, we’re not really able to fully mount a resistance to that, you know?  I hope this is making sense.

LANE: Yeah.  No, it’s fine.

MEXIE: Okay.

LANE: I totally agree.  I just want to say ‘cause you were talking about the difference between the story of Eve and the story of Skywoman, that is so similar actually to — I just reached over to grab this book, The Truth about Stories by Thomas King.  It’s this book I’m reading right now.  I’m about halfway through, and my partner really highly recommended it.  It says the same thing.  It’s talking about basically how stories are all we are.  Like, our narratives are all we are, our creation stories are all we are, and talks about the differences between indigenous creation stories, specifically Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe creation stories, and Biblical creation stories.  Speaking as a Christian or Christian-adjacent person, I also want to say that I am deeply critical of the church.  I am deeply critical of Christianity.

I am deeply critical of the impact that Christianity has had on the global — globe, the world, and the people upon it, and the land.  While I support people who are in the process of trying to transmute and reclaim Christianity to be something that is spiritually healthy, I recognize that.  The majority of Christianity is not.  The majority of manifestations of Christianity are not healthy or earth-honoring.  I think that yeah, the creation story really is something that I struggled with in that.  I think it’s important to note that the Christian — or actually the Jewish creation story that became also the Christian creation story is something that was radical for its time, or radical for its political context because that was coming out of the creation story of Babylon which was basically that god — not god, but different gods; I’m not an expert in Babylonian history, but a god invented the city of Babylon and then humans were invented to serve in that city.

Then outside of that city was kind of this godless hellscape, and so the idea that god had invented the entire world and that every person upon the earth was invented by god, that was a more inclusive creation story than what they were coming from, so I do think that things have to kinda be taken into context like that because I don’t want to disparage Jewish thought or even early Christian thought when we talk about the implications that this has had since then.  But a lot of people — yeah, I totally agree with you; everybody has a spiritual practice or believe system.  Everybody has a worldview or cosmology whether they acknowledge that or not.

I actually made a video about this — not to plug other videos on my channel, but my video — I think it was called The Necessity of Sacredness went into analyzing that, like what are the thing — like, what does it mean to hold something sacred and what are the things that are held sacred in capitalist society, which is pretty much — like, we have spiritual or almost religious rituals around capital consumption.  We venerate — like, spiritually and ideologically, we venerate wealth.  That is a form of spiritual practice whether we acknowledge it or not, and I think that another issue with Western atheism is that it is so influenced by Christian hegemony in a way that’s not fully acknowledged a lot of the time, because — I will freely admit that I think that the Bible is largely anthropocentric.

The idea of human dominion over the land and things like that, yes, that can be interpreted and has been interpreted in a variety of healthier ways, but the majority of how that theology has been used and expounded upon has been very, very harmful.  Then, the entire belief system of Western atheism, scientism is built on this idea of anthropocentrism which really comes out of Biblical thinking.  So, that’s not — the idea that humans are the most important thing in the world is not an objective fact.  It’s a ideology.  It’s a spiritual belief.  Yeah, I think that leftists could really — a lot of leftists could really do to analyze their belief system along those lines.  Yeah.  I feel like there was something else you said that I wanted to respond to, but my brain is [inaudible].

MEXIE: Yeah, no worries.  Yeah, no, I think that’s exactly right because — and again, this is also not to shit on atheism or whatnot, but just yeah, this idea that’s — I think a lot of leftists have, that spirituality — there’s no place for spirituality in politics, there’s no place for spirituality in the revolution and whatnot.  Yeah, their belief systems are still heavily, as you said, impacted by the kind of Christian hegemony but also capitalist hegemony and just basic ideas, like Western ideas of progress and development and things like that, right?  Which is why I think that a lot of — like I said, visions for the future that a lot of leftists come up with won’t have reciprocity at the core of it, you know?

Yeah, it won’t have practices that aren’t just purely based on the material and democratizing workplaces but keeping production and everything else the same.  We’re not just — I don’t know.  We’re complex beings.  We’re not just beings that need to work and eat and sleep and that’s it.  We have emotions, we have thoughts, we have all this capacity to connect to the world around us and to these feelings even within us, but also then outwardly into the universe.  Yeah, I think it’s very limiting, the way that we talk about spirituality, or we don’t talk about spirituality on the left.  But yeah, I just wanted to bring that up, that it is really a false dichotomy and that the spiritual is political and the political is spiritual, or it can be.

Then another thing in terms of the values versus ideology thing, I honestly feel like — and I can’t remember who said this quote but it was something like books or theory don’t make people into leftists; empathy makes people into leftists, and I feel like that’s truly where I began.  When I was a kid, just having those visceral feelings of like, this is unjust or having empathy for people and being like, this is not okay with me and I don’t — I’m not okay with the way that things are.  I don’t know, I guess I could talk about my spiritual journey now, but yeah, so I grew up in a — well, we weren’t really — my parents were never super religious.  I think my Nana is — my Nono went to church every week, so I guess he was fairly religious, but it was Catholic, a Catholic household and family or whatnot.

So, we went to church when we were kids because my parents wanted to expose us to it, so we went up until First Communion.  But, I don’t know, I guess I was a child and I’m not sure if the sermons that I was receiving were just not that radical, but I had a really hard time connecting with it.  I mean, again, I was probably a child and I was bored and it kinda felt like a history lesson or something but I had a hard time connecting with the idea of an anthropomorphic god.  But I was very spiritual even from a young age, even though I wasn’t really aware of it then or I wouldn’t have called it spirituality then.  But I had a lot of spiritual connection to nature or being out alone in nature.

That’s when I would have these really deep feelings that now I would recognize as being spiritual, of just deeply connecting and deeply feeling myself as this loving, conscious awareness that was connected to the broader universe and not separate from it.  I was also born on Halloween, so I was very into ghosts and spirits and the occult or other things that were immaterial or spiritual, but it wasn’t until I was I guess my later teens that I really got into Buddhist philosophy.  I was, I guess for context, just a really, really depressed child and depressed kid.  I’m realizing now I’ve actually started learning a lot more about autism and autism in girls and I’m realizing that I probably was and then just — or am and just was never diagnosed and that kind of explains a lot of the issues that I was having and the feelings I was having, but anyway…

LANE: I feel like I have a theory that YouTubers are way more likely to be autistic than the general public.

MEXIE: I would believe that.  I would definitely — yeah, I think that you’re onto something there.  But yeah, so, I was just honestly a ball of self-sabotage.  I had a very, very anxious attachment style.  I developed very co-dependent relationships with fairly toxic people.  I was fairly toxic myself, to be honest, because I was just a mess of emotion and insecurity and anger and depression.  I developed a very extreme eating disorder and I was suicidal for several points in my life.  A friend of mine was really into studying world religions and kind of turned me onto Buddhist philosophy.

Then, honestly reading that, everything just clicked.  It just, it really — I know it sounds so cliche and ridiculous but — to say that it changed my life, but it really did ‘cause it changed my relationship with myself and the way that I understood my thoughts, my emotions, I guess the nature of reality, the nature of my place in the world and things like that, so it really changed how I showed up and moved through the world.  I feel like it also really fed into my politics in a way that was really helpful for me because at the time, again, I didn’t like the way that things are.  I kinda felt like there was something wrong innately.  I was kind of this counter-culture kid that was into Adbusters and things like that, and I was broadly anti-capitalist but I didn’t have a lot of the language, that I really wasn’t connected; I was living in normieville where it was not really okay to talk about that stuff.

But yeah, just a lot of the messaging that — and the values, I guess, the values that I took from that philosophy just really, really fed into my politics like ideas of generosity, selflessness, ego death, and the focus on how the pursuits that we usually think of as desirable in Western capitalist culture, that those are actually harmful delusions that will lead you further and further away from happiness.  I just really felt all of that.  So yeah, that was really, really amazing for me.  It’s taken — I got into spiritual practice and meditation and all of this kind of stuff but I never really wanted to talk publicly about it because cultural appropriation; there’s so many white women who appropriate all of this stuff, or Hinduism and things like that.

Yeah, watching your videos also really challenged me to think about what it was that was driving me towards this stuff, you know?  ‘Cause I was really impressed by, yeah, just all of your thoughts around ancestral accountability and the importance of not distancing yourself from your own tradition.  So, yeah, I guess it’s still just a constant struggle because it’s like well, I was drawn to this stuff because it really, really resonated with me and it’s — since then, I’ve kind of developed a practice — it’s not like I really follow a specific Buddhist tradition or whatnot; it’s mostly just the philosophy and then I’ve developed my own practice and worldview that also connects with the connection that I feel with nature and my want to deal with anthropocentrism and things like that.  But yeah, I guess it is something that I don’t usually bring up because it’s like oh, another white woman appropriating Buddhist philosophy.

LANE: Yeah.  I feel that and I feel like for a lot of — I mean, we’re both white people and I feel like both of us probably have majority white viewership, and so speaking from that perspective, I feel like there is a huge amount of shame in white people a lot of the time to be open about any spiritual thing.  It’s like, for me, I’ve experienced that similarly of shame around talking about spiritual stuff, not necessarily from a place of fear of looking like another white Buddhist kind of thing, but even — I was involved in a lot of paganism and tried to get involved in the Wiccan church at one point when I was younger.  Paganism was kind of my first spiritual entry-point when I was very, very young, like a child.  I don’t really like the term paganism personally, ‘cause I feel like it’s way too vague and doesn’t actually refer to anything specific.

But I feel like since getting — a) getting involved in the church, I’ve been like oh my god, people judging me for being Christian.  I know that Christian hegemony is real and that is not something that exists in more conservative spaces, maybe, but definitely on the left, people cringe and roll their eyes when you say that you’re involved in the church, and having to explain myself to other white people, mostly, for my decisions there.

Then as I’ve been getting involved in more pre-Christian ancestral stuff which is actually kind of the majority of my spiritual work that I’ve been doing right now, I feel like that is cringe as well because I look at things online and it’s like, everybody’s got a Celtic tattoo and a lot of people aren’t aware of the politics of identifying — for example, like identifying as a Irish person or identifying as a Scottish person when you’re somebody who’s never been to that place.  Or, I don’t know, I feel like I have had anxiety about culturally appropriating my own ancestral traditions even, which I honestly do think is a real thing that is possible to do, just like it’s possible to disrespect or engage with any spiritual tradition and having an ancestral claim to it doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship to it is respectful is kind of what I mean by that.

But yeah, I’m glad that you brought the Buddhism thing because I mean, as my viewers may know, I have been critical of white involvement in Buddhism but I feel like I kind of need to develop on that or expand upon that because I — also, that was kind of the first video that I ever made when I was beginning this ‘ancestry is important; maybe we should think about that’ thing.  I kind of have come to this place where I’m like, ancestry and spiritual traditions and everything is so complicated, and there is no clean-cut — there is no clean-cut ‘this is my ancestry’ and ‘this is my spiritual tradition or practice or something like that’.

Everything in human history has been affected by migration, has been affected by power dynamics, has been affected by imperialism, has been affected by all kinds of different moving parts and I don’t — even though for me personally, I do think that grounding my spiritual practices in a process of trying to re-traditionalize to my biological ancestry.  I don’t think that that is necessarily the only path or the path that is accessible to everyone.  I’m also in a position of privilege of knowing what my ancestry is and knowing where my people came from.  There’s a lot of people who are in positions where they don’t even know what their ancestry was even going back one or two generations.  So, that’s something that’s just not accessible for everyone.

Then also, I feel like the idea that we should only ever engage with spiritual traditions that are in our biological ancestry, I feel like taking that to the enth degree can also get into some really friggin’ hairy politics, just really sketchy stuff.  Definitely all forms of neo — or like, Celtic revivalism and Norse revivalism, stuff like that, obviously steeped in white supremacy, just like the church is steeped in white supremacy and like any spiritual tradition that’s predominantly white people is going to have its wing if not dominant faction a white supremacy.  So, I definitely don’t want to feed into that, of like, everybody go back where you came from, which like, people — a direction could go in with that.

I do think that people having spiritual traditions or participating in spiritual practices that are from other places in the world that aren’t necessarily co-relating to their ancestry is something that has been happening in human history for all of human history.  There have always been people in the world who have participated in practices that were not of their biological ancestry, whether that has been through fostering or migration or a number of different things.  So, I think that the most important thing for me is just that we are not using the cultures of other people to spiritually bypass the work that we need to do or to spiritually bypass accountability; like, I don’t have to think about my legacy as a white person because I’m a Buddhist, which I know is obviously not what you’re doing, but like, you know what I mean?

That kind of consumerist, cherry-picking mentality that some people can approach certain things with.  I feel like I have been broadly critical of white involvement with Buddhism not because I’m trying to create some sort of grand narrative of this is something nobody should ever do, because I know several white Buddhists whose engagement with that practice is very, very respectful and very, very informed by having their mind and heart in the right place.  But I feel like I just — I want people to always be second-guessing themselves or to always be critical of their motivations for things.  In my experience, I feel like I have also seen so many people — and not just in Buddhism but in many other things, like white people getting involved in the spiritual traditions of other people for reasons that I was critical of or maybe that’s presumptuous of me.

But just that I feel that looking towards our own traditions sometimes isn’t even seen as an option.  It’s not even something that’s on the table of things to explore for white people.  I think that there’s a number of different reasons behind that, of shame and avoidance and feeling like if you distance yourself from your cultural practices, then you’re distancing yourself from colonialism which obviously we’re not.  Whether or not I identify as a Christian or not, I’m involved in it.  Whether or not you identify as Christian or any of your…

MEXIE: Catholic.

LANE: …ancestral traditions, we’re still implicated in these things and I think that that’s the important place to — or the important thing to be acknowledging in whatever we’re doing.  Then I also just made some notes of things that have come up that I wanted to circle back to, if that’s okay.  I remember — you were talking about the left kind of lacking spiritual ideology or a spiritual cohesion that will allow us to vision for a future that is actually sustainable and equitable and not anthropocentric and not just replicating capitalist values or values that are inspired by Christianity, scientism, and things like that.  I feel like I also wanted to say that I feel like cross-cultural and inter-religious relationships are really important for that.

I don’t think that — I know this wasn’t what you meant by that at all, but I don’t think that the left is ever going to have a cohesive spiritual ideology or practice but I think that for me personally, as a spiritual person or somebody who has a spiritual, religious practice, I find it easier to relate to people who have a spiritual practice regardless of what that is.  Some of my closest friends are Jewish people — not to be like, my closest friends, but you know what I mean?  Some of the people that I have the best conversations about this kind of thing with are Jewish people, indigenous people, Muslim people, people of different traditions but we all get the necessity.  We all get the necessity of having that access addressed and cared for in our lives.

I find it so much easier to talk to people and to organize with people who have a spiritual tradition regardless of what that tradition is rather than organize with people who think that that is totally off the table who don’t even think about that subject.  I’m not here to shit on atheists or whatever but it’s just like, atheism is a spiritual ideology and I just would appreciate more for that to be acknowledged as such, I guess.  Yeah.  There’s some other stuff I want to say, but you can move on with the conversation.

MEXIE: Yeah, no, I — yeah, thank you for that.  I definitely don’t think that the left will ever have one cohesive thing but I mean, even just individually as a leftist for you yourself to have a cohesive spiritual worldview, touch-point, or practice that you engage with is definitely, I think — I don’t know.  It’s been important for me and just on a practical level, if you’re coming to community organizing or political organizing and you haven’t — you don’t have a relationship with yourself, you haven’t addressed things like ego, machismo, I don’t know, trauma that you can maybe externalize onto other people, it just makes it very difficult to actually organize and to organize in a way or to come up with solutions that won’t replicate the same hierarchies that we want to fight.

But yeah, I’m also really glad that you brought up — that video I was so grateful for where you totally did challenge white Buddhists to think about; what is it that is drawing you to this?  Are you trying to distance yourself from this thing that you can’t be distanced from and things like that, so I’ve definitely — yeah, it’s definitely something that I think about and grapple with.  I don’t think that’s what initially drew me to it because at the time, it was mostly about my own inner development and then I soon realized the political import of it.  That’s part of why I don’t really talk that much about it because I feel like if it’s just a deeply personal thing or a practice that I do for myself and within myself, then I don’t feel that bad about it, right?

I don’t feel like I’m really — if I was going out and trying to teach it and make money off of it and have classes and have people — be like, come listen to me, this white Buddhist or whatever, I feel like that would be a huge problem.  But yeah, because of that, I’ve also been inspired from you to look into my own ancestral tradition and I’m also really glad that you brought up this idea of feeling like, am I just appropriating my own tradition now, because — so, I guess — I don’t know — I don’t think I mentioned this at the top of the episode but yeah, my background is half-Italian, half-Lithuanian and you sent me really awesome podcasts; Fair Folk Podcast, and we can link below if people are interested, if you are also Lithuanian, but it was really interesting because apparently Lithuania was one of the last places in Europe to be Christianized and so, they’ve actually maintained a lot of the — their indigenous, ancestral, pagan traditions and songs and practices.

So, it was really, really fascinating learning about all of that.  It was really interesting because the host, Danica, is from Canada and throughout the whole thing they’re really grappling with this idea of belonging and, I don’t know, do I have the permission to be here, and this idea that in Canada, as settlers, this whole project of whiteness is just completely totalizing.  It erases all of our cultural tradition, and then so a lot of white people obviously end up feeling this need for belonging or this need for tradition or whatnot.  So, her grappling with ‘I’m not from this place; this isn’t my tradition’ and just feeling kind of out of place or whatnot, but at the end — I actually wrote this down ‘cause I wanted to read it — it was — really spoke to me because for me, I was fascinated by learning all this stuff and I was really excited about it ‘cause I didn’t really know that much about my heritage but I also kind of felt how she felt, even though my background is Lithuanian.

I’ve never been to Lithuanian; I’ve never been to Italy, so for me to adopt these kind of practices and ideas, even though a lot of them are very resonant with the spiritual beliefs that I already hold, especially the relationship with the land and things like that, yeah, I do have this feeling of ‘is that still appropriative, right?  Is that any less appropriative than my connection with Buddhism, kind of thing?’  But she said this at the end and I just wanted to read it.  So, she was talking about this idea of spiritual permission.  Obviously appropriation is a real thing but she says that no one can really withhold that from you.  The moment you dedicate yourself to the moment, the place where you are right now — and she said this hill, the sincere gathering, ‘cause that’s where she was, that’s when the ritual comes about.

Tradition isn’t about belonging.  We humans already belong to the earth.  We’re built of the soil, water, fire, and sky, and so instead of asking where do I belong, ask how do I belong, how do I connect?  Just elaborating on this idea that belonging is actually active and not passive, and it’s where you show up and offer sincere devotion.  Yeah.  So, I was like okay, so that really then clicked for me especially as a settler because I’m like okay, I’m a settler in this place.  I’m trying to look for my tradition.  I already have the spiritual practice that is kind of appropriative, although I will say that the one — one main thing that really drew me to Buddhism was that there was a real focus — everything that I was reading was like, it doesn’t matter who you are.  It doesn’t matter where you’re from.

It doesn’t matter; you don’t have to go to temple, you don’t have to do any practices.  This is a philosophy.  It’s not about just belief or it’s not about okay, we believe in this deity; these are our stories or whatever.  It’s, here’s a philosophy; now see if it’s true for you.  If you want — you need to go see if it’s true for you.  Go meditate.  Go think on it.  Go feel if this is true and then through meditation and contemplation and whatever, you kind of end up realizing oh shit, yeah, this philosophy is really great.  Not to say that people can’t appropriate it in so many ways or that — no.  I’m not doing that myself but I think that is one thing that drew me to it, was that it’s like well, it’s a philosophy of being and so, if it resonates with you, then it can resonate with you, right?  But anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, so as a settler, yeah, that kind of clicked with me that I was like okay, I’m over here.  What does it mean to show up here where I am with sincere devotion?  What does it mean to actively belong here and get into right relationship with the land and people here?  That’s kind of an open — that’s — I feel like up to now, my spiritual practice has largely been internal and then affecting how I relate with others and my thoughts on politics more broadly.  But I feel like this is where it needs to grow into, right?  That’s the big question.  That’s the big practice of bringing that here and making it meaningful here in whatever way possible.

LANE: Yeah.  The idea of having a respectful relationship with your own ancestral culture and anxiety about that being appropriative or appropriate or what is something that I’ve been really struggling with since I started along this ancestral reconnection path because I know that there’s this — there’s an indigenous concept of nationality that’s very much — it’s not about who you claim.  It’s about who claims you.  I think that that’s pretty universally applicable in a lot of ways.  It’s one thing for me to say I’m a Scottish person or I’m an Irish person which I’m not really, because I’m more — I identify myself as somebody of Scottish and Irish descent or Scottish and Irish ancestry but I’m not a Scottish or Irish person ‘cause I don’t live in those lands, I didn’t grow up in those lands.

I know that there’s actually a lot of — not universally but there is some resentment from Irish people and Scottish people and other people who still live in those places, for settlers coming back and really wanting to identify themselves with and engage in that culture without having done any of the work and also that there are different material conditions that people are living under.  A lot of people who came to Turtle Island as settlers were able to access a sort of wealth or class mobility that people who stayed on the Isles were not able to access.  So, in some ways there is social strife and poverty and stuff like that that are uncommon for — not uncommon but the class situation is different on Turtle — for white people on Turtle Island versus people in Europe a lot of the time.

Not to say that Europe is a particularly poor place in general, but you know what I mean.  The social context is different and I think that we need to engage with that.  I’m not really claimed by my ancestry.  You know what I mean?  Most of my living ancestors are settlers in Canada.  I do have living ancestors — like, I’ve been to the Isles once in my life to visit England and Scotland, and so I have relatives in England but as far as my Scottish ancestry, that’s mostly on my dad’s side and my dad has — my dad’s family have been settlers here for upwards of five generations.  So, that’s been complicated for me to engage with as well.  Yeah, I feel like it is about the earnestness of it to a certain extent.

Like, are you doing this for some sort of clout or selfish reason or are you doing it because it’s something that you really feel earnestly motivated to do and that you will engage with the challenges of that, not just the benefits of it?  I think that it’s never simple.  Something that I’ve had to reconcile myself to over and over again is that I’m never going to come to a spiritual place that feels clean-cut.  I’m never going to come to a place where I’m like, I figured it out; this is my identity, these are my roles and responsibilities, and this is my spiritual practice, ‘cause no one has.  As white settlers on Turtle Island, I don’t think anybody has reached that.

I’ve read stuff about that, that we are kind of like — maybe it’s a inappropriate analogy or something like that but an analogy I’ve heard used is that we are an orphaned people, that we don’t really have a connection to — or as — en masse, anyway; not speaking as individuals, but en masse we don’t really have a connection to the land here.  We don’t have stories here when we’re talking about the importance of narrative and creation stories, and we don’t have a — most of us don’t have a claim to or don’t have active relationships with our ancestors back in the places where our ancestors came from.  A lot of us are just struggling and grasping for something, grasping for roots, basically, in a place where we don’t necessarily have roots.

I feel like sometimes the clean answer to that is go back where you came from, which obviously is politically — regardless of who you apply that to, that’s never a good answer.  I’m not telling that to indigenous people to talk about how they approached their opinions on what decolonization looks like, but just speaking from my perspective, a) I’ve never been told that everybody going back where they came from is a realistic decolonization practice, and b) there is not — just speaking practically — there’s not enough room.  There’s not enough physical room on the Isles, just speaking from my perspective, for all of the diaspora to go back there because the diaspora population is larger than the native population when it comes to Scotland and Ireland.

So, that’s not practical and I think that something that I’ve had to really engage with is that we are a different people now.  Maybe the identity of Canadian or American or things like that are not — those are not filler identities, either.  But definitely, I think by being a multi-generational settler on Turtle Island, I am not the same people as my ancestors who are from the British Isles who were Celtic or whatever else they were.

That is something that we really need to engage with, and I don’t have an answer for that.  I don’t have an answer for who I am or who we are if you and I came to be — said to be part of the same — it’s strange because I almost feel like whiteness has been a form of ethnogenesis which it has been, but it’s like, even though I want to be going back to my culture, and I know a lot of white settlers for whom — with whom I share no ancestral connection; we come from very different places in Europe or places that are very geographically different and whose traditions are very different, but it’s like, on Turtle Island I undeniably have more in common with other people who are identified as white in this political context regardless of what our ancestry is.

So, that’s been a complicated thing to engage with, of the fact that a) whiteness isn’t real but also it is real.  You know what I mean?  Because my social and political and spiritual context is so similar to yours even though we are not of the same ancestry and arguably are not of the same ethnicity when we’re talking about white — ethnicity is classified under whiteness.  You and I are not even of the same ethnic group, and so — I don’t really have an answer for that.

But I think that that’s something that I’ve been really, really trying to engage with and struggle with and I think that I’m just going to be struggling with it for my entire life because even though I could theoretically just save up the money somehow throughout my life and uproot myself and move back to Scotland, I don’t think that that’s an accountable thing to do because like I said with regards to the church, I am implicated in colonialism here and I’m implicated in the settler social context here and I don’t really want to absolve myself of that.  I don’t really want to just look for something that’s pure and clean and simple and easy to deal with and move myself towards that.  I want to deal with whatever is going on where I am.

Growing up as a settler, I feel more capable of dealing with — helping to deal with settler colonialism here both through working with other settlers and working in allyship or solidarity with indigenous people.  That is a social context I’m more equipped to deal with through my life experience here.  Then, if I move to the Isles, what would I even do there?  I don’t even know what their social problems are there.  I don’t even know what the political context is there, so it would benefit me; it wouldn’t benefit the people on Turtle Island and it wouldn’t benefit the people on the Isles either for me to just seek a simple solution like that.

The thing is too is that regardless of whether this — the politics around it factually — and this is maybe a messy thing to say or I don’t really know how to say this in a good way or a — I hope that my intention comes across, but I am made of the land here.  People who grew up on this land are made of the land here.  My body is made of the water here.  My body is made of the food that I’ve eaten that had been grown here.  I have developed relationships to and acclimatized to this land space and have made commitments to this land space throughout my life, and so I feel like the relationships that we build in this life are just as important if not in some situations more important than our ancestral place.

Not everybody even has a homeland, so I’m sorry that I — you didn’t even ask me about the homeland thing but I’m bringing it up.  But not everybody even has a homeland where they can think of — just speaking as settlers, to envision or fantasize going back to someplace.  Jewish people are nomadic people.  There’s lots of other nomadic peoples who are now existing on settler — in a settler status on Turtle Island and so I feel like we just have to deal with that.  Even part of when we first came here, there were covenants made.  Nobody ever said get back in the boat and turn around.  They said these are the conditions under which you will be allowed to live here.

Obviously all of that has been violated and all of that has been grossly mismanaged and there has been so much unspeakable violence that has happened, but it kind of still stands that those are the terms and conditions of our existence here.  It’s not that — again, this is me speaking as a settler; I’m not speaking on — as any kind of authority on indigenous perspectives, but it’s my understanding that it’s not that we’re not allowed to be here but it’s that if we’re going to be here, we have to be here with a certain amount of roles and responsibilities and accountability.  That is what I want to focus on doing, both being accountable as a settler and being — and working towards decolonization in a real way both through my spiritual practices and through materially how I show up in the world, organizing, where I’m putting my time and money and efforts and things like that.  Yeah.

MEXIE: Yeah.  No, absolutely; same.  Yeah, I know — I’m sure a lot of indigenous people have varying perspectives on this but my indigenous colleagues always described decolonization to me as learning to live in the nations that you actually inhabit and then as you said, honoring the treaties which are really the only things that are allowing us to be here, right?  If we’re disrespecting the treaties, we’re basically ripping up our own land deeds which is something we haven’t really reckoned with at all.  But no, yeah, and this is why Robin Wall Kimmerer again, her concept of becoming indigenous to place was so powerful to me because that’s something that I felt, like yes, that’s what I need to do.

That’s what I need to figure out because like you said, I do also have a — I feel like I have a very strong connection to this land, like the actual land here, and yeah, especially in certain places in Ontario close to where I grew up.  For a long time I was very — I don’t know.  I guess maybe I was searching for something.  I wanted to just travel.  I wanted to be this nomad that didn’t stay in one place.  I wanted to get out of Ontario as soon as possible and move somewhere else, anywhere else.  But I don’t know, as I got older I realized that no, I actually really do have a tie to the land here.  As you said, in terms of being accountable as a settler and actually working to live decolonization into practice, that’s something that I need to learn to do here.

But when I was listening to the Lithuanian podcast, I was also thinking about Robin Wall Kimmerer and becoming indigenous of place because the host, Danica, was asking about — there’s a lot of pagans in Canada who are trying to — they want to know how to revive a tradition when so much of it has been lost or severed or things like that.  It was really interesting listening to that priest, I guess; the host did an interview with a priest in the tradition there and he was talking about how, well, in the land that you live, there are ancestral traditions but obviously they’re not your traditions.  But then he started to basically say that there are actually a lot of parallels with our traditions, our values, and — not our traditions, I guess, but our values and our thoughts or our worldview and the worldview of the First Peoples of Turtle Island where you’re from.

I just kind of was thinking about that when you were talking about you and I; do we even have anything in common ancestrally or spiritually?  But I think even in the places that you were from, if you go far back enough, right, to those ancestral traditions, I’m sure that in so many ways they would have a lot of things in common in terms of values and traditions and things like that where, yeah, it is really about right relationship with ourselves, others, and the land.  I think the advice that they gave to Danica was basically that it’s about the community.  If you are in community and dedicating yourself to the moment and whatnot, then the rituals can arise through that communal engagement.

I just found that really interesting because a lot of their traditions are rooted in song and — but it was really — the song; it’s something that you do in community, right?  That’s how it comes alive.  I was just thinking about that and feeling like okay, maybe that’s a way forward.  Whatever community that I’m forming, maybe we can develop rituals or align our values and create, practice, and things like that in the place that we are aligning ourselves and our minds with this broader goal and this, I don’t know, spiritual desire and things like that.  Yeah, I just thought maybe I would offer that ‘cause those were things that I was thinking about.

Again, I think that’s something I’m gonna be struggling with for my whole life too, like what does it mean to become indigenous to place as a settler in a way that isn’t either replicating colonial power imbalances or appropriating or whatnot, especially when it comes to the land and the relationship I have with the land, but recognizing that my existence on it or the land — the house that my parents own and whatnot is directly implicated in dispossessing people who live — you know, just that whole thing.  I think it’s, yeah, a lifelong project.  But I was kind of inspired and excited about that idea of bringing things to light within community and having that be enough for a ritual to come about, you know.  I don’t know.

LANE: Totally.  I think that it’s really unfortunate because it’s like, I think that there is something really powerful in organic and respectful and horizontal cultural exchange.  I think that the reasons why a lot of the complicated — I feel like I’ve heard that perspective from people who are doing re-traditionalization work in places in Europe around the Isles.  A lot of well, our traditions have so much in common with North American indigenous traditions or Turtle Island indigenous traditions, so there should be a connection made there.  Part of me is like yes, but part of me is also like, I feel like sometimes people who are speaking from the European perspective don’t have a full emotional grasp of the amount of trauma and betrayal that’s involved in that.

So, that’s something that I struggle with and I think that a lot of settlers struggle with, is there is so much that we have learned from indigenous people already, like so much in even just the development of democracy and medicinal knowledge and land work, the whole field of permaculture.  There’s so much that we have learned from and in some ways taken from indigenous culture.  It’s always the question of how do we do that in a way that’s respectful?  How do we do that in a way that’s not replicating colonial relationships?  That’s not something that I have an answer to, either.

MEXIE: I think it’s honestly just Land Back.

LANE: Yeah.

MEXIE: I think it’s honestly just — because the — I don’t know, I don’t want to talk too much about the project that I’m working on, but the whole goal of it is to basically facilitate indigenous land conservation where indigenous people are — have sovereignty over the land and are able to make decisions and conserve the land based on their own laws and in-line with their cultural traditions and whatnot.  So, the goal is to strengthen indigenous knowledge in all of these spheres but to have it led by indigenous people.

I feel like if we were — if there was Land Back and the land was being managed by indigenous people and — ‘cause I think it becomes — ‘cause I think it’s impossible — it’s really — yeah, it’s impossible, I think, for a settler to practice — I’m not saying that — I’m not suggesting that anyone should be practicing indigenous traditions but I think it’s impossible for a settler to grapple with, yeah, the stuff that we’ve learned from indigenous people and the similarities between maybe my ancestral tradition and the traditions here when we’re still on the land and we’re in charge of it.  We’re not actually living — the laws governing this land are not the indigenous laws that should be governing it.

LANE: Yeah.  I feel like that’s something that I’ve experienced as well.  I’ve been learning about — a big thing for me — actually, probably one of the most important things that I’ve done, that I’ve only started doing recently with regards to ancestral reconnection, has been learning traditional stories and learning traditional stories from Scotland.  I got this book called — it’s actually — my laptop is propped up on it called Scottish Myths and Legends by Daniel Allison, and that book has been so eye-opening to me and so heart-opening to me, reading about these traditional stories, a lot of which are pre-Christian stories.  Not all; there’s also folk stories that are post-Christian but yeah, that’s been really, really eye-opening to me.

I’ve had that experience as well of seeing the indigenous nature of those stories in regards to the fact that indigenous cultures around the world tend to share a certain philosophical thread — like, certain philosophical threads or trends, like any animistic or earth-honoring tradition.  Yeah, I don’t really know where I was going with that but grappling with that and trying to be like, how do I approach these similarities and acknowledge the amount of knowledge that I get from indigenous people, even the indigenous people in my life directly without, I don’t know, having that reflected in the power relationship or having that influenced by the power relationship which it undeniably or unavoidably is.

But I feel like something for me is that — as a personal aside or example is that I tend to not want to brag, I guess, or be super open about the indigenous solidarity work that I’m doing or my involvement with community because I think that it’s really easy as a settler to gain clout points or gain some sort of social capital for ‘I’m working with these plant medicines and I’m doing this work’.  You know what I mean?  I don’t want to have any sort of social existence where I’m trying to position myself as a good, white person who’s doing the work.  Even though — I don’t know, I am doing the work but I don’t want to be, I don’t know, having some sort of thing based on doing the work.  I don’t know.  But yeah, I don’t know.

It’s so complicated and I feel so — as I’m — as we’re talking about this, I feel so much of just everything with regards to the spiritual challenges that white settlers have is wrapped up in shame.  To circle back to the things we were talking about before, not wanting to get involved in our ancestral practices is rooted in shame but then not wanting to be open or even fully invested in the practices we are drawn towards is also rooted in shame, and not wanting to develop a land relationship.  We feel so alienated from the land and then we also almost feel ashamed to develop those relationships and ashamed to honor those relationships.

It’s almost like — I feel like a lot of the time, the things that we are ashamed of or the things that we’re ashamed to do are the things that we most need to do with regards to owning our ancestry, owning our spiritual traditions, our spiritual lives, like owning our responsibilities, owning our land relationships, and not — and really fighting that shame or that fear, and, I don’t know, I guess that’s something that maybe gets a little bit easier through that process of spiritual deepening, of — I feel like — I’m working on a video right now; my software just crashed.

It’s taking me over a month to work on this but I’m working on a video right now about interconnectedness and I feel like when I kind of came to that place of understanding or beginning to understand interconnectedness, that was such a weight off my shoulders of no longer trying to be like, what are the implications of everything that I’m doing and what is everybody going to think of me and things like that, and just focus on I am a person of this social position and that is valid and what — assuming we’re all parts of the same body, what does somebody in my position need to be doing to benefit the rest of the body kind of thing, and understanding that regardless, I’m never going to be completely approved of by anyone.

I’m never going to receive the universal approval of other white people for my spiritual approach or my decolonization work.  I’m never going to receive the universal approval of indigenous people.  I’m never going to receive the universal approval of any group.  All I can do is give it up to god, I guess, and make sure that I feel right with my own self and my morals and the people that I’m in a relationship with and people that I have good faith connections with and understand that, I don’t know, the shame and the messiness and the criticism and all of that is just going to be part of the process for my entire life and having unanswered questions and things like that.

MEXIE: Yeah.  Yeah, absolutely.  I guess I wanted to take — that’s maybe a good moment to speak to the audience and say that we are both very open to criticism.  Again, we’re two settlers grappling with these topics, so if we’ve said anything that you feel was not great or that you would like to add to or maybe contribute to or maybe if you have ideas on our struggles or our attempts to ground ourselves and become indigenous to place and live in greater reciprocity here, then we are very open to hearing them.  Please share those respectfully, please, in the comments.  But yeah, I just wanted to say that, that we’re very, again, open to criticism on any and all of this, right?  But I think it’s a really important conversation to have and I think that I just don’t see any conversations like that on the online left happening, frankly, so yeah.

LANE: Yeah.  I feel like, yeah, I don’t know.  Just bringing it back to shame, I feel like a lot of people are thinking of — I personally feel like a lot of people are thinking about this.  Even the very STEM-lord science bro left is still having these nagging feelings in the back of their minds late at night and maybe we’re just not there with getting to the conversation.  But I think a thing for me; I’m so glad that we’re having this conversation and I’m almost — I’m kind of in the place where I’m like, I’d rather just be having a conversation and even if the things that we’re saying are not perfect and even if — you know what I mean?  There’s a lot to learn about and there’s a lot to build upon, like the importance of just the fact that I’m willing to engage with it and the fact that you’re willing to engage with it, and then we can — once we start that work we can kind of move from there, I think is something I would like to see go — the leftist community move towards, of this conversation we’re willing to have and we’re gonna start having it, and we’ll work on it from there.

MEXIE: Yeah, yeah.  Absolutely.