Personal and Racial Healing
So, the questions now become, “How do I deeply change myself to become awake so that I can participate effectively in advancing our democracy, our relationship with each other, and our economy? How do I partner with others so that our awakenings tap into the power of synergy? How does this combined/partnered energy change the world?”
Here is how that awakening has happened with me. I first partnered with myself. I recognized my own inertia, and my resistance to getting involved, which is rooted in the mechanical obedience that I was taught as a child. This acculturation had led me to believe that I could not change anything, no matter what I did. However, concern for my children, and what would happen to them and other vulnerable people, overcame that unwanted indoctrination. Holding strong to my earlier commitment to be always on the lookout for the social tendency to minimize and reject the ones who appear not to be contributing to our society, I began to work to make this a more caring, compassionate nation.
Although I am fully committed to helping create a more humane world, I have had to recognize that I live in a society that still has strong authoritarian, dominator elements that invalidate me and cause fragmentation within myself and isolation from others. I continually must resist the forces around me that lock me away from my joy, my true self, and my ability to engage in creative action.
I wish I could say that I believed so much in myself and in the human spirit that I wanted to do everything I could to free and nurture that capacity in myself for its own sake. However, that alone could not shake me from my inertia. For me, it was the love of my children, and fear for the type of world we would leave for them. I was especially concerned about my son’s survival in a political system that seems to value money above people. There is nothing wrong with money, but if money continues serving as a primary focus for our society we will lose our moral high ground, ending up in a sharp decline. And just as I learned happened with the good German people prior to World War II, the good people in this nation could allow inexplicable horrors by closing our eyes to lesser offenses that are being justified by blaming and devaluing certain individuals or groups. When we realize that things have gone too far, it may be too late to turn back.
The other concern that motivated me to break out of inertia is a politics that lacks civility, demonstrating the lack of focus on values by our body politic. This lack of civility suggests that there is a lack of intellectual and spiritual balance in our decision-making process. This lack is seen in the vitriol, the inability to be inclusive, the willingness to distort truth to make people fearful, and the placing of externals such as money and business above compassion and caring.
My evolution hasn’t been a straight trajectory. My personal history and past experiences sometimes replay in my head. I occasionally have to step back and assess the stories that I tell myself about who I am, based on who I was and based on my past experiences and decisions, as well as my family’s history, and even that of my ancestors. These stories kept me locked into the current economic and social systems, not able to see the possibility of a nation evolving around our true values. Yet belief in the writings of our Founding Fathers, though they had no thought of me, inspired me to believe that I too, as well as all others, had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This, coupled with the belief that we are a nation of fairness that functions best with a level playing field, that there is within our reach a way of building a caring economy based on people rather than profits, gave me the courage to overcome my fear and shame. I realized that fear and shame had kept me out of touch with my own pain, partly because of our collective national stories reinforcing that one kind of person is more valuable than another, and discrediting partnership-oriented beliefs, attitudes, and activities as unrealistic.
I did not get over all my fear and shame before I got involved—I’m still working on that. I just got busy; I knew that I needed concrete, sustained action. We face huge problems that may seem insurmountable. Yet for our children’s sake and for the sake of the planet, I know that I must do everything I possibly can—not only to protect the vulnerable and our planet but also to unlock our individual and collective potential.