Not the Same Ol’ Leadership
Since late 2009, Buddhist Peace Fellowship has been in a transition to younger leadership. Under Sarah Weintraub’s direction, the organization has become increasingly relevant to the next generation of socially engaged Buddhists. This shift continues as Katie Loncke and Dawn Haney move to the front as the new co-directors of Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
As young leaders in movements for social justice, we grew up learning about the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, of Silvia Rivera and other queer and trans people fighting back at the Stonewall Riots. In our world, we have always needed to free Leonard Peltier from his politically-motivated imprisonment for leadership in the American Indian Movement. The feminism we come from is rooted in the words of Angela Davis, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua; it has always centered race, class, and sexuality as part of gender politics.
The Buddhism we practice is strongly rooted in the US and is socially engaged. In our lifetime, there has always been an Insight Meditation Society in Barre, a San Francisco Zen Center in the Bay Area, and Naropa has always existed as an institute or university in Boulder. Thich Nhat Hanh has always been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work as an engaged Buddhist, speaking out about the Vietnam War. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has always brought Buddhism into a secular context. There has always been a Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
The movements of social activism and Western Buddhism have fostered a new world, a new world we have grown up within. As Grace Lee Boggs, radical Asian American Detroit activist and movement philosopher has asked, “How do we understand that every victory creates new and more challenging contradictions?” With new contradictions, we need a new set of strategies to respond to the new world we have built. As younger people step into leadership, it is not just that new faces take on the same work BPF has always done. Together, we must develop new strategies, new analysis, and new ways to be Buddhist activists. The challenging contradictions of our times demand nothing less.
We are excited to explore this new landscape with you! As socially engaged Buddhists, we will each be challenged to step beyond the familiar frameworks and tools we have grown accustomed to using. We look forward to exploring with fellow Buddhists who share skills in wise speech, have spaciousness to sit with discomfort, and foster compassion for all those on the path. May we face both the new and old familiar dharma doors together, grounded in our activist practice.