Thursday, August 17, 2017

Interpretive Truth

The world is a messy place. I've been absent on this blog due to topsy-turvey in my own life with a long illness and then moving, but I'm back. My heart has compelled me to speak what has been tumbling around in my mind since the weekend. It's not about plants or Nature, but the nature of humans.
The violence in Charlottesville, VA is a horror that feels all-too familiar . . . a little supremacy and entitlement mixed with primal reactions, disputes and accusations, with harm as a result and someone feeling like they were the "winner". I personally can't see any winners in a situation where people were intentionally mowed down by a car and someone died.
There's a whole lot of blaming going on. A whole lot of people pointing fingers, media filled with outcries supporting the various sides. Screams of protests against monuments that were intended to represent history but have become icons for prejudice and malice. Arguments over free speech vs. hate.
I've been pondering this since the weekend. How did we get here? How do we move forward? What's the lesson?
Before the particular violent moment that ended a young woman's life, what caught my attention were the displays of fighting against something, especially in the chants, by both sides.
Fighting is fear in action. It is inherently violent and separating. Even when we think we're fighting against something wrong or evil, we're still fighting. It carries the same intention of disconnection and feeling of superiority, born out of fear and a feeling of powerlessness. We got a glimpse of the fears that showed up in Charlottesville. Light was cast into the shadow for a brief moment, and the invitation is open for us to look at things a little deeper.
We can't fight for peace. We need to shift how we approach conflict. If all we can see is "sides", then we'll never understand perspectives. We've been taught there that is only ever the truth, when in reality, there are the truths of all those involved in a situation.
When I worked in Employee Relations, we had a saying, "There are three sides to every story". Eye-witnesses to a crime have frequently proven to be not credible, because each witness is viewing the situation from their own unique understanding of life, through the lens of their own experience and beliefs. They interpreted what they witnessed, as we all do. It's very hard to be truly objective, because our feelings compound things, often muddying our logic. And if we're in a crowd, our consciousness coalesces with those we hang with . . . we can think and behave in ways well beyond our individual norm because what's accepted in this particular crowd becomes acceptable to us. We justify our actions because we feel empowered by our interpretation of events, and can be bolstered by crowd mentality. Our interpretation may be our truth, but it's not the only truth, nor is it likely to be the pure truth of the situation as a whole.
What we can do is learn from our past, by viewing events with the intent of discovery of why they occurred, instead of judgment and asking who was wrong or who started it. Questions like, "What happened here?" and "What was everyone was afraid of?" can bring more clarity and less subjectivity. If we want to find the root cause of the conflict, we need to go to the deepest motivator . . . fear. That's where understanding comes in and things can start to change.
We can't change our skin color any more than we can change if we were born into privilege, so let us stop the blame and shame for our ancestors' behavior or our birth circumstances. We are not responsible for what our ancestors did, but we can change the course of harmful actions started by them. We are responsible for choosing our actions right here and now in our own time, with the understanding that our thoughts and actions affect everyone else around us and future generations. We will someday be the ancestors. What legacy shall we leave for our loved ones?
Let's change our minds.
Let us be present and work with what we have in front of us right now. Let us act with patience and compassion, and recognize that there are many truths to be had in any situation. Let us be kind to one another as we suss the truths and pain out. Everyone here is hurting. Let us remember that some people will be so frightened that it will come out as violence and anger and they won't be able to hear anything we say, even when we do it with kindness. Let us love those people the deepest, for they need it the most. They may not recognize genuine kindness, because they've never experienced it. Kindness only came at a cost for them.
No one wants a war of any kind. No one wins a war. There are only survivors, and the cycle of violence lives on in survivors as trauma. Let us move beyond survival . . . we are so much more.
Right here, right now, let us look one another in the eyes instead of stopping at skin color, or how we adorn our bodies, or who we love, or how we choose to call our god.
Let us look beyond our own fears and prejudices, for we all have them, and they run deep.
Let us stop assuming the worst of one group and the best of another. No one group of people is all bad or all good.
Let us see the individual or group in front of us and interrelate with them in each moment, and let love and understanding be our intention.
May we each find that our courage overrides our fear so we can be our best selves. These are hard days.
Compassion is love in action. May you find it, may you receive it, may you know it, may you be it.
In love & Light,
Sue

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