In a heated dialogue on Facebook about racism and sexism in the green community, I found myself being called an SJW - and not in a nice way! Looking it up on Wikipedia I discovered that SJW is "an internet pejorative for someone who discusses social justice issues in order to raise their personal reputation."
While I'm certainly guilty of discussing social and environmental justice issues when I find the courage to speak out, I doubt it's done much for my reputation - at least on that particular forum!
The term Social Justice Warrior seems almost honorable, doesn't it? I hadn't thought of myself as any kind of warrior at all, let alone one who stood tall against social injustice. How can this term be an insult? Who would want to be a warrior supporting INjustice? Well, apparently quite a few people!
Lately it has been bothering me that so much injustice goes unopposed - or opposed by very few - and that I haven't spoken up more. So I made a vow to myself to try to be braver and call it out when I ran across racism, sexism or the other people- and-nature-destructive "isms" in my own circles.
The SJW term reminds me of ecophilosopher Joanna Macy's favorite story about the Tibetan Buddhist prophecy of the Shambala Warriors , so I decided to look it up again.
Macy tells the story as her Buddhist teacher told it to her. It begins:
"There comes a time when all life on earth is in danger. At this time, two great powers have arisen; these are the laloes (the barbarians). One is in the western hemisphere and one in the center of the Eurasian land mass. Although these two powers have spent their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable death and devastation, and the technologies that lay waste our world."
She tells us that at this time of terrible jeopardy a kingdom of new warriors arises, the Shambhala warriors. They have no land or power and just two weapons: compassion and insight into the interconnectedness of all beings on our planet. Together these two gifts sustain the Shambhala warriors as they work within the great empires to dismantle the weapons.
It seems hard to believe that such simple "weapons" could be powerful enough to shift our world away from its destructive degeneration into endless war, injustice and environmental devastation. But the times call us to try. So perhaps it could be considered an honor to be called an SJW, if our goal is to stand against the forces of destruction.
And as a first step, maybe we SJWs can do for "SJW" what anti-misogyny activists have done for the word "Slut" - wear it with pride and defiance.