We at illuminating hearts send our love and condolences to all those who suffered directly in the recent global events in Charlottesville and Barcelona, and any others currently suffering, big or small, from hate crimes and acts of bias that might not be making headlines. Gran amor y un gran abrazo a todos. Big love and a big hug to all.
We usually refrain from political posts, but recent events and intense energies indicate that it is time to harness our mission and presence of living from heart-based intelligence to en-COURAGE community connection, action, and speaking out from the heart. Love is taking action and not staying silent or passive in an unhealthy way. We are writing here from our hearts to synthesize and share some current wisdom, great resources, and recommended actions. We need to look deep inside ourselves at what actions truly serve the highest good of all. So when you do speak up, you can discern what you really want to say. The soul-ution is in moving away from reactivity towards responsiveness. The soul-ution is moving away from silence and isolation towards connection and inclusion of ALL.
Recent shocking events are very much stirring deep anger, which is appropriate. The question then becomes, how can you harness the great energy of your anger into bold loving action? The invitation in each difficult awful moment after harm has been done in our global community is multi-fold.
Own Your Story
Begin with the humble lesson of learning what the "other" person feels like. Individually own your story, however painful, and then apply it at a collective scale. Listen to others' stories as well to get a bigger picture than your own myopic view.
"If we own our story (personally and collectively), we get to write the ending. If we don't own our story (personally and collectively), the story owns us." - Brené Brown
Brené Brown, who taught a class on race, class and gender at University of Houston for years, does a great job with a recent live Facebook video capturing the current issues of privilege. Privilege is about unearned access and rights. Many of us are not owning the story of white supremacy that has been in this country since its inception, and so that story is owning us right now. A life of 'privilege' isn't about how much money you have or not, or if you work hard or not.
"If you can go silent or opt out. If you have white skin. If you have an education. If you are Christian. If you are not hated for who you love. If you can speak and not live in fear. You are privileged." - Brené Brown
If you are not white, please speak, write and share (or continue to) courageously about your authentic experience with white people and others where and when you can. Please help educate others about your story and experience in order to build bridges of connection. We were moved by the deeply honest perspective written about white-supremacy by Layla Saad. Many people of different race and ethnicity, immigrants, and those found in a beautiful spectrum of gender and sexual identity, are finding the courage to stand up and speak, write, or share about their perspective more than ever before. We applaud all of you who are bringing your powerful voice to the world. We need you.
If you are white, acknowledge your privilege. My partner Orion and I, co-founders of illuminating hearts, we are white. I am Jewish by blood but was raised Christian, exactly because of the hate and bias (that still exists) which caused my mother to convert, that lead her to meet my father at a Christian college. Orion was raised Catholic. Together we notice our slight cultural differences, not just as woman and man, but with our different religious and cultural upbringings. We desire more diversity in our neighborhoods. Regardless of our heritage, we all need to know the story of white supremacy we are living unconsciously and silently.
Educate yourself. Read the heartfelt and well-written piece on the history of hate in America and the current surge in hate we are seeing by John a. Powell; director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, and Bioneers board member. Seek out context and perspective from reputable sources.
"If we are to pull America back from hate, there must be supporters from all political persuasions and voices from every race, ethnicity, religion, and faith. If we are to stand for equality and love, we must ground ourselves in these values and we must indeed take a stand. We are America’s present and its future." - John a. Powell
Reach out beyond your comfort zone to get to know the painful shadow side of being white, recognize your part in white supremacy, and take the steps to connect with the beautiful diversity around you. If you have no diversity in your community, take action to build diversity in your community.
Brené highlights a few important things about what you can do to wake up to your story and the current collective story:
- Own it. Being privileged is something to re-cognize, so we can see where others suffer. Get educated. Learn inclusive language. Listen.
- Take a different perspective. Acknowledge the lens you see the world through has limits. Believe people's stories as they tell them to you. Don't run it through your lens. Learn about theirs.
- Empower yourself and others. "Power is the ability to affect change." - Martin Luther King. Powerlessness is the most dangerous state we can ever experience. Power over is finite. Power with is infinite. "We are witnessing power over's last stand, we are learning power with." - Brené Brown
- Speak up. Don't be quiet. Silence is a mark of your privilege, and it helps no one heal. White supremacy is a thing and choosing to not say it out loud hinders our progress as a society.
- Embrace the imperfect. You will be imperfect in your conversations. Some people will call you out trying to use your own imperfections against you. It's okay. It's never personal, even when it is made to seem personal. To opt out or go silent is the definition of privilege.
- Focus on accountability not shame. Dehumanizing or shaming the enemy, or anyone, is like wanting to hurt people by putting poison in the water supply. You have to drink that water too. Shame is not a social justice technique, it's emotional offloading. What we do is make perpetrators accountable.
- Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. "Comfort" is antithetical to "growth." If you want to progress as a society, you have to, in the words of Tori Amos, "find the secret to life" and learn to be "okay when everything is not okay" (Tori Amos, Upside Down). You can be kind to self. Change isn't enacted overnight. Take care of yourself through the discomfort, but don't run away, lean in.
Anger and Mirror-Like Wisdom
If we see civil war "out there" that means we are split within ourselves, and our own fears are hiding self-hatred and delusions of separation aimed within -- as expressed without. We are one, we are connected. To everyone and everything without exception. This includes a president we may not agree with as well as a deluded mob causing hateful harm. It takes great humility and courage to embody this fully. To read more about oneness and our interconnectedness, read our blog on change, "the strange", and Worldview 5.0.
In these first hours and days after the news and social media reports a grave injustice in our global communities we feel the surge of rage and angry reaction inside. Inside the resulting pain and anger, there is an opportunity for "mirror-like wisdom" as termed by Lama Tsultrim Allionein, referenced in the 3rd article (of a 5 part series) on Love in the Time of Chaos by Ram Dass.
"Our worst thing can also be our best thing. So if you have a lot of anger, you have a tremendous potential of that energy becoming mirror-like wisdom. When the struggle is removed from the anger, then it becomes mirror-like wisdom. So it’s the same energy, it’s not like you’ve got to get rid of anger and then cultivate something else. The energy of anger itself, when the struggle – meaning the dualistic fixation that occurs in anger, of me versus whoever or whatever I’m mad at – when that’s removed, it’s just energy. And that energy has a tremendous amount of clarity. We can be so clear about other people’s faults, and what’s wrong, and so on. It’s the same with passion. If you’re really passionate and desirous, that’s not a problem, that’s energy. And that energy can then be transformed into wisdom." - Lama Tsultrim Allionein
When we look inside ourselves for the root and do the important self-work required to alter the mirror, wisdom emerges.
Love = Wise Action
It is crucial to find where we can take wise action. Love is not passive. Roshi Joan Halifax sees anger as important. And action. She encourages us to look at the seed within anger, which can bring clarity for better discernment.
"...our anger toward the experience of disempowerment that is going on, whether we’re speaking in terms of the natural world, or in terms of race, or children, or women, or economic justice, we should be angry. And it’s essential that we act. We can’t just sit there gazing at our navel and say it’s all love. Love does not mean that we are passive in the face of harm. I think Martin Luther King Jr. was clear about the relationship between love and justice: Anything that stands in the way of love is unjust. The absence of justice points to the absence of love. So I don’t separate love and justice in this regard, I see them as intimately intertwined. We can become a toy of our anger, or our anger can become an instrument of love." - Roshi Joan Halifax
Leaning in to the discomfort to notice it's not the person we are angry at, it's their behavior. If we aim anger and hatred at them, we are creating more of the same problem. Focus your anger on the issues at hand. Send love to your enemies, and remember they are you. Dig deep for what action you can take. Research. Dig even deeper for forgiveness.
In summary, feel the anger. Feel the pain. Run it through your body. Breathe. Breathe deeper. As many times as needed to listen deep inside your soul. Own your story. Share your story. Listen to other stories. Forgive. Reach out to your community. Ask questions. Get educated. Educate. Speak up. Take loving informed action. Rinse, wash, repeat. Then the story no longer owns us and we get to re-write a new inclusive, just, and tolerant ending to the story we are all contending with.
Please share your thoughts and any recommended actions you might have in addition to the resources listed here and below. The most important thing is to not stay silent. This is all about getting the information out there, available, and educating ourselves collectively to the many valid stories that want to be heard.*
Much love and joy in all ways,
- Start with you. Read all the articles about navigating with Love in times of Chaos, starting with the first part. We recommend reading illuminating hearts recent blog post to understand the big picture of our chaotic times, the evolution underway, and what you can do for self-care and prepare for change.
- Here is a helpful list of community based actions you can take from the Southern Poverty Law Center which has a three pronged approach towards racial and social injustice: Exposing Hate. Teaching Tolerance. Seeking Justice.
- Here is a list from Charlottesville, Virginia on recommended helpful actions. "Bring your best gifts to this struggle, and fiercely love."
- To learn some good basics about being impeccable with your word, not taking things personally, not making assumptions, and doing your best, read The Four Agreements.
Photos: "Love Trumps Hate" courtesy of Lauren Sparandara, "the hug" courtesy of Alisha & Kirk Miller and Darren Miller Photography.
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*Please note, we have a no tolerance policy for hate and will remove any comments that involve name calling or disrespectful emotional offloading to this post.