I’m supposed to be writing the newsletter right now, but I can’t. My head is full of static. The grand jury has declined to indict Officer Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. I had hoped it would at least go to trial. I am sad and disappointed and disillusioned and a bit hopeless tonight.
I am blogging about this tonight because I need to find a solution, and perhaps you do too.
When Spirit woke me up to turn on the news in the early morning hours of September 11th, 2001 (no, I’m not comparing the events, I’m comparing my reaction, stop it), I had this same static in my brain. I was at a complete loss as to how to even react. Which tells me that I, like so many others, have been triggered by the news. That static is my clue that I am in trauma trance; we each have our own set of recognizable symptoms of shock.
My friend Ophelia pointed out that this is an opportunity for awareness:
Does this make you worried too go out tonight? Are you going to be extra careful about what your teen son wears tomorrow? Do you have to teach your sons to look down, act extra submissive, be twice as careful and fearful of police involvement? Have you watched this and thought that could be me, my son, my brother? No? Think about that. That ‘no’ is your privilege. Now try and imagine how you would live, feel, interact, parent if this was the opposite. Really. Keep thinking about it. Because some people don’t often get to stop.
And Scott Mendelson on Twitter wrote
White privilege is me being outraged and angered by the
#FergusonDecision rather than utterly terrified.
When the towers fell in New York, the only thing I knew to do was to ask Spirit what to do with it, what it meant, how to process it. I’m oddly scared to do that, tonight, but I think it’s just the trauma talking. I wanted to address here the trauma of cultural wounding, but I’m not forming words very well. I’m just going to take this to Guidance and let them speak:
As we have told you before, everyone in a given situation is blessed, whether they be victim, perpetrator, or witness. This is certainly the case here. What you are witnessing, once again, is an opportunity for the human race to come together as one and step away from the illusion of separation, to actively choose to heal cultural wounds, and for each person to reach their hand out to another and let them know they matter.This is done by insisting on change, by speaking out and letting yourselves be powerful, rather than powerless. The speaking out needs to be done by both people who feel they have no voice and people who know that they do. This is done by acknowledging the humanity of every person you encounter, and treating them with respect. This is done by owning your wounds and acknowledging theirs, both of the personal and cultural variety. It needs to be done in spite of the persons of supposed authority, who keep their “power” by keeping others off balance. It is they who have no wish for people to have humanity. Do not let them define you. Reach out, listen to what people have to say, hear them to the best of your ability. Ask questions. Have conversations. Be respectful of their experience and yours. But do not assume you are powerless. Change happens when supposedly powerless people rise up and force those around them to hear them, when people who have supposed power speak up for the people who feel powerless, and when injustice is no longer something people will put up with.
You are powerful. Each and every one of you. Stop allowing people to tell you you’re not. The tide is coming back in, and change is surging. Pray for change, allow for change, work for change. The status quo works for a very small number of people. Even some who have that privilege aren’t really happy with it.
Now is the time for change. Make it happen by moving toward change. Know that those around you are deserving of humanity and treat them accordingly. Stop letting fear define you, stop letting fear define them.
May this be the beginning of a conversation of change.