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Lions Roar : September 2016
HOT OFF THE PRESS Lotus Out of the Mud Paradoxically, the individualist ethos handed down from Ameri- ca’s terrible founding, as distinct from more collectivized social- cultural organization (of the East, for example), provides an opportunity to transmute the destructive force of aggression and narcissism to approach collective liberation in entirely new ways. The two elements that most quicken the potential for transcendent movements are not entirely unique but are prominent features of American society: 1. embodied intersectionality 2. the entitlement of individualism The depth and breadth of embodied intersec- tionality at a critical mass is the direct outcome of a non-homogenous society, the best example of which is the experiment called the United States of America and this admittedly accidental outcome. It seems unlikely we could have truly envisioned collective liberation prior to intersectionality because we had so much cultural hegemony. I would go so far as to propose that even the idea of collective lib- eration expressed beyond the theoretical, as it is in the spiritual aspiration of the bodhisattva ideal, and instead rendered as a broad-based agenda for social justice, is a direct result of intersectionality. Intersectionality Is Its Own Ideal America in all its messiness provides the first real opportunity for this because so many people are still in touch with their mother countries and mother cultures or are reclaiming cultural identities distinct from and against whiteness as the model of perfection. In, as bell hooks says, “claiming the identities and cultural lega- cies that shape who we are and how we live in the world” we reject hegemony, the very thing that allows us to organize solely around similarities or simple tribalism. The impulse to assert our right to claim who we are is an essential human urge toward self- determination, but the comparative strength and rela- tive speed by which we do so in America, overriding the drive to assimilate as the hegemonic order would have us do, is a direct by-product of the individual sense of entitlement, perhaps inherited or borrowed from our contact with the privileged whom such entitlement was meant to be bestowed upon. But even as we claim our identities, which could be seen as leading to self-centered ideologies or just cliqu- ishness—perhaps an unavoidable developmental stage that critics of identity politics have pointed out—inter- sectionality incites us to reject internal cultural and identity hegemony. RADICAL DHARMA: TALKING RACE, LOVE, AND LIBERATION by Rev. angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens, with Jasmine Syedullah, PhD North Atlantic 2016; 248 pp., $12.95 (paper) LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 74