The Warrior and the Other


The change of seasons, the turnover of another year, and especially a new decade tends to direct us toward self examination, those deeply personal questions of meaning that arise once the initial onslaught of promises to lose 10 lbs or toss the cigarettes aside ceases. What does it mean to be LGBT in 2010? Our stories are told through our activism, our language, our living history sifted through our culture with all of its nuances. And in turn, our stories are reinterpreted by media and what philosophers refer to as The Other, an individual or group very different from our own.

Of course our culture is rich with diversity which gives it strength, but I’m thinking of our collective whole, our community and the history we have written this past decade. In order to know we must act, which begins with an examination. Like the twin-faced Janus (the Greek God that the month January is named for) we turn to our past finding a decade of momentous strides toward equality as well as horrific proposals to legalize the genocide of homosexuals. We find fundamental extremists, at home and abroad, bent on polarizing efforts toward finding a common humanity (in the perennial sense). And we find our own warriors in the forms of artists and politicians, religious thinkers and philosophers, scientists and lawyers, doctors and technologists, designers and storytellers, students and corporate heads and the rest of the courageous who are striving toward a more integral idea of love and marriage. And then there are the rest of us, who watch and hope; spectators of our future.

I recently reviewed my journal from 2009 in search of something that wasn’t clear to me until I started to approach my blog on this week’s theme. I found excerpts from a few of my favourite philosophers, scribbled observations on “change” that espouse methods for self and societal transformations. I also found habits of mind in recurring themes of lost love and our equality battle that fell into miserable cycles of sorrow and feelings of defeat. I realized that I embodied the Eastern Indian metaphor of the elephant chained to a small wooden stake, walking in circles, conditioned to a life of self-imposed imprisonment.

Most of us in our community are staked, our society conditions us to remain chained, we are The Other to them like many minorities, unaware how weak the metaphorical stake and chain are compared to our collective whole. The first step is awareness, a thorough examination of our selves and our culture which of course is something we do individually and collectively with an eye on our diversity. Change also requires action. It requires stepping up, shouldering the responsibility along side our warrior sisters and brothers who have been battling fundamentalist thinking for decades. In the words of Mahatma Ghandhi, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. Embody equality, embody dignity. This starts with simply doing, becoming active in our communities and becoming aware of various political agendas that want to keep us chained.

I invite you to share your insights, your self examinations, and your thoughtful meanderings with me here in the Philosophy blog on Don’t worry about formality; let’s simply enjoy our pursuit of wisdom on these pages.

About The Author

Cynthia Vale is a budding scholar and doctoral student in Transformative Inquiry at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She writes the dot429 philosophy blog. You can reach Cynthia at

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