Glad to see the news this morning. It looks like James Arthur Ray will be facing charges stemming from the $9,695-a-person “spiritual warrior” workshop he led last October which included a sweat lodge as a final activity…and the death of three of the participants.
Let’s be aware, though, that although these serious charges are significant and justifiable (from what I know), they do not capture the foundation of what led to the deaths of the three individuals who lost their lives in this tragedy. (For more thoughts on that…see my earlier blog posting.)
As the conversation moves forward, take note as to whether or not James Arthur Ray is held accountable for his cultural appropriation, his use of white privilege, his wanton use of a sacred healing and purification ceremony that HE turned into a profane trial of will.
Saying that he “researched” these practices in Peru hardly absolves him…In fact, it just makes it worse, as far as I see it. I’ve not heard him speak of elders who passed down their practices to him. I’ve not heard him name how he came to see himself as sufficiently trained in the tradition to become a water pourer. I’ve not heard him speak humbly in any way, shape or form around this issue. The question becomes, I suppose, do I think this misuse of a culture’s traditional practices in this way constitutes, in and of itself, a criminal act?
Yes, cultural appropriation used in this fashion SHOULD be considered criminal. This is not to shift the attention away from those who lost their lives. But, instead, my hope is that we would draw the line about what is acceptable well before someone has to lose their life.
But, what do you think?
Do you see the privilege in this, as I do?
Do you recognize the difference between being influenced by other cultures vs. using them in an exploitative fashion?