What makes us birds of a feather? Is it our interest in birth work? Is there enough commonality there to find bridges and connection? Is division a necessary reality in birth work? Recently, in our public facebook group, Love What You Doula, a question was posed. Below is my response. What do you think?
I meet a lot of people from all over through training doulas, childbirth educators, and placenta encapsulators. And I don't often know their political leanings/how they vote, etc. Sometimes they share. But we always talk about some big subjects.
We ask that the doulas be willing to stand in uncomfortable space and truly hear others without negating anyone's experience for anything less than they say it is. That if they hear things and learn things that challenge their beliefs that they make a genuine effort to calm the fight or flight response and truly hear one another. We begin with some guidance on how to do this in a very practical way. It doesn't mean that we all leave with different opinions, but we hopefully all leave with greater understanding and willing to know that we don't always know what we don't know. We have to be willing to be wrong and learn. Even if we decide that after being presented or challenged with other ideas, we hold fast in our ideas, we have been willing to stand in that uncomfortable space and we can have a greater understanding of another/others.
I have worked with those who have shared they have a conservative religious practice and those who have no religious practice. I've worked with those who openly describe themselves as politically liberal and politically conservative, libertarian, and moderate. What I find is that there are many communities to serve and that there is information about birth that does have political aspects, like race and reproductive rights (this even includes the right to have or not have children and to choose where and how to birth), breastfeeding, access to health care, and on and on and on, that we are all responsible for understanding and (hopefully) improving. But, when we create a space that isn't polarizing - but is instead a learning space where it's ok to say the wrong thing and learn more and it's ok to say "i just didn't know" and it's okay to have your thoughts challenged, or even push a conversation further - the walls sort of fall down and we aren't talking politics or religion any more - we're talking humans and babies and birth and women and men and partners.
So I guess my challenge to you would be this - what does conservative mean to you? ask yourself what is it about being surrounded by conservative birth workers brings you comfort? And what is it about being around those who don't identify as 'conservative' brings you discomfort? There's nothing wrong with wanting to be around people who have similar values to you. But maybe you have more in common with birth workers than you think, and your challenge is to learn more and calm that fight or flight response so that there is room for your thoughts and someone else's? It's hard not to fall into the polarization of things - but polarity doesn't help anyone grow and it doesn't lead us to providing that golden standard of non-judgemental support.
In Birth we are always learning that what we were once told/once thought was wrong. We are always looking to connect with the ancient or the inner and balance that with the modern and inventive. I'm confident that next year, in 10 years, I will learn that things I believe today are wrong and I will understand things in ways I am not ready to hear/learn/see now. There's vulnerability in being in that place. And there's vulnerability in finding commonality in others. But I truly believe that that discomfort brings forth more greatness than the comfort of likes.