I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 (NIV)
Author adrienne maree brown says, “Pleasure activism asserts that we all need and deserve pleasure and that our social structures must reflect this.”
brown calls herself a “pleasure activist.” A key aim of her justice work is the creation of a world where we all have access to abundant pleasure.
I clung to brown’s words tightly this past year when pleasure sometimes felt impossible to find in myself or the world. There were so many injustices simultaneously happening; showing up for justice felt exhausting and taking care of myself in the process felt like too large a task.
I was grateful for activists like brown who grounded me in a few simple facts: We can’t expect people to join our fights for liberation if we make doing liberation work miserable. And we can’t expect liberation work to be sustainable if we never cultivate joy during our freedom fighting.
I name New Year’s intentions instead of resolutions, and one of my main intentions for 2022 is to remember that pleasure is the point.
When I don’t know which direction to turn, I’m going to move toward both my pleasure and toward the decisions that will bring collective pleasure to my communities. I’m going to imagine a world where life is so simple for all of us that we can easily find and hold on to joy. And then I’m going to fight like heaven for that world.
Ground me in the possibilities of your pleasure so that I may find unspeakable joy in the year to come.
Marchaé Grair is a spiritual director, facilitator, and the Communications Director at Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. Follow her work at marchae.com.