“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” – Carl Jung
“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” – Frederick Douglass
I have this friend. He’s one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known. He’s the type of man that just makes you feel safe and loved in his presence. In my opinion, Christians would be much better at recruitment if they were more like him and less “you’re going to Hell if you don’t _______” Just a thought from the outside.
I met with him last week. I was weary from hearing so many clients talk about how the election impacted, retraumatized, scared, and broke them. I went to him for solace and guidance. I expected him to tell me that it’ll be okay. In fact, I was desperate for someone, anyone, to tell me that this is going to be okay. After assessing my social support system, I thought he would definitely tell me that it would be okay. I was not able to find “okay” from any of the usual sources.
He did not tell me that it would be okay. He said that it might not be okay for some people and probably will not be okay for others. He said this in earnest. He broke my heart all over again. He told me to deepen my compassion and empathy and get to work helping the people that come to me for help. I took a deep breath and we talked more about what that means and how that looks. He was able to guide me in terms of phrasing and compassion. We talked about what it means to be a light bearer in dark times. I went to him seeking “okay” and what I got was “get to work”
I never intended on this blog becoming a political platform. Then, the world started to burn. You see, people put their emotions, pain, love, suffering and care in my hands. I hold the sacred parts of people and help them tie these parts together for a living. I hear stories of racism, sexual assault, misogyny, suffering , domestic violence, and child abuse and so much more. I am not lamenting because I know that this is my life’s work. I hold the sacred parts of people and for that reason I believe my job is sacred. The Chaplain and I talk a lot about that.
But, to tell me what’s happening doesn’t matter is to discredit my story and the stories of so many other people that have fallen prey to a broken system that hurts and will continue to hurt so many people. Maybe, you’re lucky enough to never have experienced deep pain and suffering. I suppose a lot of people didn’t really understand what they were getting behind. I suppose some wanted the 1950’s America back. I also know that we live in a segregated world. People mostly spend time with people that look like them and act like them. We don’t cross the divide enough to really hear about the life experiences of “the other”
I’m working on developing a compassion curriculum and the research is clear. If you want to eliminate racism, xenophobia, and homophobia you have to listen to the lived experiences of the people in those groups. You have to listen over a period of time and believe what they are saying. One of my friends, a person of color, said that if you say you have a friend that is a person of color and they’ve never talked to you about the lived experience of what that means, they aren’t your friend.
We need compassion and common humanity. We need to be our brother’s keeper.
However, I suspect some did know what was coming and some are reveling in the stories of pain, hate, and white supremacy that are circling the internet.
What I know to be true, is that people want their insides to match their outsides. What I learned after this election is that a lot of people are struggling with dark insides and they want the world to be dark, too. They want Muslims and Mexicans to suffer because that’s what they deserve. They want suffering because they suffer. They suffer from a patriarchal system that tells them they’re worthless. They suffer from rich capitalists taking all their money and blaming it on “the poor people”. They suffer from a media that makes money stoking fears and creating boogeymen that don’t exist or exaggerating those that do exist.
They suffer in deep and dark ways but instead of speaking of the suffering and instead of fighting for their joy they are trying to engulf us all in the darkness. Misery loves company and Misery just bought the farm.
I’m struggling with the concept that Liz Gilbert presented about “Is compassion a privilege?” If you are a person that feels unsafe and you are not ready or willing to extend compassion or understanding to people who hurt you in this election, put it in my hands. I’ll hold it for you. You’ve been doing that work long enough.
I will do as the Chaplain says because I know he’s right. I will work. I hope you will, too.
“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” – Frederick Douglass