At Charis, we believe in complexity. Not because we want to make things hard to understand, or accessible only to people with elite educations or interests, but because we believe that all human beings are complicated and deserve the respect and dignity of not reducing aspects of ourselves which are irreducible. None of us, even on our worst day, is all one thing or another.
The trouble with valuing complexity is that it makes it hard to simplify an idea or a value down to a soundbite or a tweet, and those are the primary currency of our media landscape. Yet the long scope of U.S. history is complex. Race and racism are complex. Gender and sexuality are complex. Prisons, policing, accountability, and healing are all complex. Laws and lawmaking, government and judicial frameworks should be complex–not inaccessible, but complex enough to account for the fullness of our huge and varied world.
Watching the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson reminds us of the essence of our work. We unabashedly believe that all children, especially white children, should learn about the history of race, and racism and specifically about the history of white supremacy from birth on, because they can, because they must, because, as evidenced by the behavior of the majority of white senators and congresspeople, white supremacy shapes every facet of our relations at the highest levels of our government and that will only change when we change the way we educate white children.
We unabashedly believe that gender and sexuality are complex and that the more we speak frankly and clearly about the diversity of the human experience of gender the more likely the next generations will be to form healthy, happy relationships to themselves and to others. We believe that the best way to prevent child sexual abuse is to teach children from a very young age about consent and about bodily autonomy. That is why we promote books and programming that help children understand that their bodies are precious and that they have the right to decide what to do with them and how to talk to other people about their needs and desires.
We unabashedly believe that all humans have a right to express the divinity within them, in whatever form or fashion that divinity manifests. We resent the self-characterization of the fundamentalist Right as exclusively Pro-Life and Pro-God; we see you, our community members who are fighting to feed the hungry, end prisons and the death penalty, stop war, point out the greed and rapaciousness of capitalism, and offer the light of spirit that resides within you to strangers who need your care. We know whatever your creed or prayer or lack thereof, divinity is in the details of how we show up for one another, how we offer care in these hard days.
If you, like us, are angry and sad, tired and pissed, remember you are not alone. We are a vast and mighty community of people around the world who value depth, who value nuance, who value all the weird, wild, hard, funny ways that humanity expresses itself. We are irreducible and that is a gift. We don’t need to whittle ourselves down to be more palatable so that we can pass through the eye of the GOP’s needle, we need only to link up with one another, across causes, in stories, in songs, at protests and teach-ins, over zoom and in-person, through booklists and playlists, in organizing meetings and in playgroups. The dignity of us all is in the details; let us celebrate our complexity.
If you would like to learn more about our support group for white parents seeking to dismantle white supremacy from within the family structure click here or visit our booklist for adults here and for children's books here.
Click these links if you would like to learn more about our support groups for trans teens, for trans adults, and for parents of trans or gender creative children or visit our booklist for trans and gender creative kids and LGBTQI Fiction and Non-Fiction for teens here.
If you would like to learn more about teaching consent and healthy sexuality to children and preventing child sexual abuse, visit our booklist here.
For a full schedule of upcoming Charis Circle events (virtual and in-person) click here.