It is rather ironic to have a middle aged, white, man talk un-ironically of marginalisation. And yet one should not judge a book by it’s cover and rather take in the often surprising adventure that is hidden inside. Not everything is what it looks like, rather perception often misleads as it always carries our bias and our own view of reality as an unavoidable filter.
I have always bucked at the label of “priviliged” mostly because I don’t think I ever felt priviliged and as true as that statement is, my perception is abviously also biased by my own life-narrative. In many ways I have been priviliged. I live in a country with great infrastructure, freely available healthcare, higher education without tuition, and most freedoms any person could ask for. So my narrative of beeing an outcast or at times marginalised must be taken with a grain of salt understood from this position of structural privilige that is the water I have always lived in and cannot fully see or appreciate.
And yet having said that, even with all those freedoms, I have still found myself (or at the very least felt like and told myself that I was) on the outside or at least at the margins, time and time again.
I grew up poor, not always knowing when and where my next meal would come from or where I would live a month from now. IN the midst of domestic violence and substance abuse by thos that where supposed to be my safe haven. I grew up disadvantaged (I was diagnosed with ADHD in my late forties) and have struggled both in the educational system and with fitting in in the workforce. I early became a Christian and was ostracized from my non-christian friends and social networks (too be fair, I was unbareably, annoyingly zealous and possibly downright rude to them). Within the Christian community I have been deemed both too fundamentalist and too progressive (at different stages of my journey) and in the end asked to leave my life and calling as a minister for being too progressive and championing LGBTQiA inclusion and in that lost my entire social network. I entered the world of Tantra and was pushed out for asking too many questions and for embracing HBTQiA issues (yet again). In the ISTA community i am too anchored in the matrix of work, kids, schedules (again to be fair, this has not lead to being pushed out, but rather left at the side because of logistics) and in any regular social setting too wild and liberated. In academia I am too mundane and out in the world I am often perceived too academic or cerebral. In the LGBTQiA community I am to religious and in the church I am too profane. In the feminist conversation I am to male and in male dominated social groups too feminine. In the kink community to spiritual and in the spirtual community too kinky. Not quite queer because I present to masculine and on top of that polyamory is too questionable and not quite accepted in the rainbow family.
You get it … definately not a rebel without a cause, rather one with too many. Again, while some of these experiences where truly soul-crushing and devastating, some may have just been my own perception or even self deception, and none of them come even close to those who are truly marginalised by systematic oppression and poverty in our world.
Still a lifetime of not quite fitting in and always finding myself at the edge, at the margin, asking questions that rock the boat, stir the pot and infuriate those in authority and power. Watching the center from the perifery, and while wishing to be part of the merry dance, also questioning the stagnation of the status quo in the middle.
Richard Rohr wrote: “As soon as people are comfortably enjoying the fruits of the established system, they don’t normally want any truth beyond their comfort zone. Yet those who are not enjoying those benefits, those who have been marginalized or oppressed in any way, are always longing and thirsting for the coming of the Kingdom, for something more.” This rings true for me, out in the margins we do not settle, we are thirsty, we are hungry for change, for truth for fulness of life.
I think what has shifted for me is the longing for the center, the main-stream and for the hapilly ever after. I wonder if it is not in the struggle and pain, in the suffering and in the anxiety and doubts at the margins that life happens?
“The truth comes from the edges of society. Jesus’ reality is affirmed and announced on the margins, where people are ready to understand and to ask new questions.” (Richard Rohr)
I have discovered that while it can be truly uncomfortable at the margin, it is wildly invigourating, ever shifting, full of wonder, paradox, doubts, and faith. It is at the margins that mystery lies. It IS the adventure. And so in the end it’s a pirates life for me!
Even so, I long for more communication and dialogue. I want to hear more voices I can engage with, agree and dissagree with. All comming out of the margins out at the edge of life and society, speaking powerful, disturbing, transformational messages for us all.