Because the world seems to be falling apart
And because joy (or pleasure/the erotic/happiness) may seem selfish amid the current state of affairs.
But also, at the core of my values, is the stubborn belief that joy is the key to liberation.
Maya Angelou said, “Joy is a freedom. It helps a person to find his or her own liberation.”
And Audre Lorde said, “deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible.”
She continues, “For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of.”
No matter what oppressive system we are talking about (and since they are all braided together when we talk about one we are talking about all of them), the goal of that system is: to limit the oppressed’s access to joy.
Today we are witnessing an awakening.
People are starting to notice they live in a society that functions because its members are, reaching towards a false sense of happiness.
We have believed the lie that we need to rely on oppressive economic, social, racial, and patriarchal systems to find it.
And we are starting to realize this system is keeping us from something beautiful in this world we are not accessing—true, honest and complete joy!
The oppressive systems we live under have perverted our understanding of freedom and joy. They have made us think happiness means: having a certain amount of money, wearing the right clothes, buying the best toys, being around the right people, and finding our value in how others view us.
With this definition, we will continue to bend to these systems to survive.
We will continue to pass over our neighbor for the next small dose of pleasure, and trample on one another to feel superior.
And because we will still be placing our joy in external sources, we will ultimately never achieve the liberation we claim to desire.
We need healthcare, legal rights for many oppressed groups, equal access to education, etc.
First of all, our ability to imagine a world where these things exist is a product of our capacity for joy and now won’t settle for less.
But we cannot continue under the false narrative that joy is something we can access after we have achieved tangible results.
Joy/or as Lorde calls, the erotic, is a source within each of us. She calls it a profoundly feminine and spiritual plain. It is freedom.
We cannot put joy on pause until we see justice. Because while legal change will make things better, the desire for it comes from our inner source. Change is not a source of joy in and of itself.
Joy comes when we throw off the shackles of what society wants from us, demands of us, and tries to force from us and choose our desires first.
Then we can begin the radicle practice of embracing joy today and fighting for greater joy tomorrow.