I want to state right off the bat that I condemn any and all acts of violence, racism, bigotry, white nationalism, neo-nazism, homo-phobia and sexism. I hope fervently that the alt-right and white supremacist movement either have a serious awakening or get their asses handed to them. I am a stand for equality of ALL people PERIOD. I am a stand for human kindness and the ability for all people to live GOOD lives full of peace, harmony, love, abundant food, health care and freedom. Ok, on with the blog...
This morning, I listened to the news. I very rarely listen to the news beyond snippets of shows like John Oliver or Rachel Maddow. But, for some reason I tuned into MSNBC on my way to see the horses. Of course, the first thing I heard was about the atrocity that just went down in Charlottesville, VA. I hate to say it but at first I was kind of numb to it. In the near daily onslaught of the horrific news worldwide, even if you don't watch "the news", it hit me like just one more thing of a loooong list of terrible things. As I listened though, my feeling centers came online and my heart grew heavy. My heart hurt for the people injured and killed today. My heart hurt for the state of our divided country. As the story continued to unfold certain details stood out to me. That the counter protesters assembled pre-march to prepare themselves in a nearby church. That the attendants were uplifted by the collective message of inclusiveness, peace and hope. That all the while they had to listen to the Alt right ramping up nearby with shouts of "BLOOD AND SOIL! BLOOD AND SOIL!" That these people, standing up for all things good and kind were afraid. That these people would soon be mowed down by a rage filled, entitled fuck wad while holding the line of peace and equality for all of us. And as I listened I heard the underlying story of the current state of our country. A war between inclusion and exclusion. Between rage and peace. Between hate and love. Never before has the line in the sand been so clear. What is there to do?
How do we, the average person, deal with what is happening now? How do we stand strong in the face of ignorance, hatred and idiocy? Beyond the obvious and already well circulated answers of protest, make phone calls and speak out, I thought I would put together a list of what I am doing internally to try and positively effect the air around me. Of course none of these things will keep violence away from the people we love or change the minds of assholes (or will it?), but we have to stay strong somehow, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter.
**disclaimer** If you are very close to an atrocity, of course these things may not apply for you.... at least not right away. No one can say how any one person should process a personal trauma. There is other help, besides a humble blog post, that would be better equipped in that scenario. This is for those of us not directly effected, but never the less EFFECTED, being that it is our fellow countrymen (and potentially ourselves in the future) in peril. Also, this in no way addresses the greater collective problem like racial issues such as how to be a good ally if you are white. There are plenty of people talking about how to do this really really well (who know far more than me). This is just me, a person with thoughts and feelings, sharing.
- BE KIND to yourself and others. As much as our problem is a collective and systemic one, never underestimate the ripple effect of one persons behavior. A heartfelt smile while holding the door open for someone on the way in to starbucks can lift someones day and even change that persons opinion of people in general. Striking up conversation with a stranger in line can lighten the air and cause that person to feel seen. Giving strangers the benefit of the doubt can diffuse tension and offer insight in seemingly ordinary moments.
- Feel your feelings. Whatever comes up in response to current events, let yourself feel it. Just sit, breathe and give yourself agency to be a feeling, emotional person. Practice taking no immediate reactionary action except to actively LOVE yourself through it. To be clear, I don't mean WALLOW, I mean in the most simplest interpretation, FEEL what you are feeling without distracting yourself or numbing. I find it helpful to even just say. I'm angry. Or, I'm sad. (the period at the end of the sentence is perhaps the most important part)
- Whatever beauty exists in your life, train your attention on it like the lifeline that it is. Not to be confused with hippie washing, where you pretend everything is perfect when in fact awful shit is going down, noticing beauty helps us take in the whole picture. The reality is there IS awful shit and there is also beauty, often side by side. Train yourself to feel your feelings and ALSO look for the beauty. It can be as simple as noticing the flowers as you walk down the street, processing the atrocities of the day. Or appreciating the amazing people that put their lives on the line to help in times of need. If you notice something beautiful, let yourself feel that too. I think sometimes we may feel guilty about feeling beauty when other people are suffering. In times like these, we need to balance out the daily worry and fear with whatever natural beauty presents itself. So, next time you see a cute puppy or a beautiful butterfly let yourself take it in like a dehydrated person drinks water. It's ok. You NEED it.
- Be the overall best person you could possibly be and let other people see you doing that. If everyone put a lions share of effort into improving their character, giving back to the people around them in small or big ways, and finding the HEART in their lives, we would all become models of what it is to be a truly GOOD person. If we share this in whatever way works for us, then our communities, our families and whoever we reach can have one positive example of the world to help balance all the crap. What this world needs is models of what a balanced, loving and inclusive person looks like. How does kindness show itself in day to day interactions? What does it look like to take responsibility for becoming the kind of person that can make the atmosphere sweeter, just by standing there? What does it look like to TRULY care for your fellow man? Whatever that is for you, BE that. Share THAT. The world needs all of us to step up and step up NOW.
- And finally, limit your news watching. Be informed, but don't inundate yourself. We need as many of us as possible to have energy, life giving hope and love to share. If we are all run down with awfulness, then we won't have the energy to do that. It doesn't mean stick your head in the sand. Please don't do that! But it is possible to know enough about what is going on, without drowning in it.
In a nutshell, I guess I am echoing the popular saying; "be the change you wish to see in the world."Because I don't think people change by force or debate. I think people change when something inspires them to change. When they see something that affects their heart in some way and no one is overtly TRYING to do it. Will atrocities still happen? Sadly, yes but at least we aren't giving in to the chaos by adding our own reactionary hopelessness to it. At least we may provide the one moment in someones day that causes them say, "See? There IS hope. If that person can keep going and operate from love in the face of so much hate, then maybe I can too." So, ride the line with me. Feel the feelings, but don't let them swallow you. Know whats going on and take action, but also notice the butterflies and feel the grass between your toes. Go to marches but also go out dancing with friends. Make phone calls, sign petitions and share relevant action items but also attend to your passions and souls calling. The old system is truly dying... dramatically and spectacularly. Lets keep our eyes focused as much as possible on the new world we are creating out of the ashes.
With love, solidarity and deep breaths~