It has been nearly three years since I first became involved with the SLLU and, soon after, the SLLUFN. At the time, I was still relatively new to Second Life, enjoying it for its social aspects, and still somewhat lost and amazed by the sheer novelty and magic of it all. It was a revelation to me that something that I probably still largely thought of as a “game” and as escapism might also serve as a platform for social justice, and political and social change. And indeed, as I became more intimately involved, the SLLU and SLLUFN came to seem much more even than that: they were my introductions to an extended community of the some of the brightest, most caring, and most passionately committed people it has ever been my privilege and pleasure to know.
Over time, my SL activist horizons expanded, with increasing involvement in Amnesty International-E, Four Bridges, and Stop Violence against Women; the latter in particular, founded by the astonishing Paty Amiot, supplemented my increasingly personal engagement with activism in-world and without. Always, however, the SLLU and SLLUFN felt most like “home.” It was here that my SLeducation in social justice, feminism, and activism received its greatest impetus. I don’t know that I’ve experienced, even in RL, an environment that was more intellectually stimulating, supportive, and positive. I don’t know where I’ve ever met such a group of caring and dynamic individuals. And I don’t know where I’ve ever learned so much as I have just talking and interacting with you all.
What have I learned from the SLLU and SLLUFN?
Well, I’ve learned that hope and a positive attitude towards change can make even the most indomitable challenges seem conquerable. I know this because I have watched you overcome such challenges.
I’ve learned that, as powerful a motivator as anger and outrage can be, the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of social change is love. I know this because I’ve experienced first-hand the compassion and love that motivate you all.
I’ve learned that one needn’t feel solitary in a world that sometimes seems overwhelmed by hate and injustice, and that there are others who do not merely care, but who are willing to step forward and make a difference. I know this because I was welcomed by you all from my first day in the SLLU.
I’ve learned that consensus is possible, and that no disagreements are ever so deeply rooted that civil discussion and mutual respect cannot bring about a resolution that acknowledges the views, aspirations, and concerns of all involved. I know this because the SLLU is “Left UNITY,” a place where all shades and degrees of progressive thought are welcomed and respected.
I’ve learned that one needn’t be a woman to care about what happens to women, gay to be appalled by homophobia, or an immigrant to be outraged at the injustices meted out to immigrants. One can step outside of oneself, and bring a passionate intensity to bear upon the injustices heaped upon others who are different than ourselves. And I know this because, more even than ideology, what motivates you all is empathy, compassion, and caring.
And most of all, I’ve learned from you all that Hope is not merely a glittering promise somewhere just out of reach, but rather a destination worth the journey.
I have come to understand over the last several months that my own time in Second Life is coming to an end. Commitments in that semi-mythical place, “real life,” have been increasingly taking their toll, and it has become more and more difficult to put the kind of commitment into my work with the SLLU and SLLUFN that I once did. I have felt, frankly, both guilty and depressed about this, but I have also come to realize that I can take what I have learned here, and apply it in new and, I think, exciting ways elsewhere. The SLLU and SLLUFN have been for me a kind a training ground, a university, and a caring family: you have equipped me to move on.
And for that, I owe you all more than I can say.
With much love,