I watched a video of peaceful protestors being dispersed by soldiers wielding flash grenades and tear gas. As smoke bombs erupted in the streets, citizens who had stood up to be heard were knocked down by the force of explosions and silenced by the fumes of toxic chemicals.
This happened all so that the country’s leader could walk across a park and stand in front of a church and have his photograph taken while holding up a bible.
The scene played out like those I’d seen before from war torn countries in faraway places; the places where we send our army to intervene in the name of democracy, where we denounce the authoritarian leaders who try to suppress the people’s right to protest.
But they are not in far off lands. They are here. In our nation’s capital. In NYC. In Los Angeles. And in cities across the country.
This is happening in our country. A country built in democracy and freedom.
How is this happening in our country?
This is why I generally don’t watch news, and limit myself to only an article or two a day. My heart has been weeping over this since yesterday. It has torn me apart on the inside.
My Heart Weeps
My heart weeps for the way that our citizens are being treated. It weeps with anger over hypocrisy and lack of leadership and lack of morality and kindness and respect.
My heart weeps with sadness for a society that has allowed the cancers of hate, intolerance and injustice to spread through our collective, entraining fear and inequality until they have become systemic habits.
It weeps for the way we pay lip service to ideas of equality, the way we throw money at organizations intending to do good without educating ourselves on how to do better — how to be better.
I feel grief and sadness and anger about what is happening.
Also joy at the disruption, knowing that this is healing. I celebrate the destruction of the status quo because I know destruction births new order and new paradigms and it is time for change. It is time for evolution, not just revolution.
At the same time, I don’t condone the looting and the destruction of peoples’ lives and businesses and livelihoods.
I wish there wouldn’t be looting; that the protests would be peaceful, but that is my privilege speaking, my desire for things to be safe and clean and nice.
Protest, but only in a way that doesn’t disrupt.
This is my privilege talking. The privilege that allows me to be removed from what is happening on the street.
Rather than immediately judge it or condemn it, I seek to understand why people loot during protests. I approach it with compassionate curiosity. What can I learn?
Can I allow myself to rest in the murky place of grey where I seek to understand without condoning?
I recognize I have the privilege of stepping back from this and observing it because my skin color gives me that privilege.
In this awareness lies a place for me to do more inner work around racism, a place for me to expand my understanding of the issues and discover my blind spots.
How We Heal
There is much I don’t know here, but I know this: the healing we need starts within.
If we stand a chance at real change, we must break the habits of fear and racism on individual levels. The work starts within each of us, to identify our conditioning, stories, and habits that create the world we live in. To look for our blind spots. To ask how we can rectify the systemic mistreatment of our fellow citizens.
This is the practice of healing.