Healing the Great Divide

As the U.S. Election draws close, COVID-19 cases flare in new hot spots. Coverage of police misconduct gets greater prominence. As we witness greater demands to restore law and order, so, too, come calls to join demonstrations in support of those who protest racial injustice. We cannot deny that we are in pain. The divide is as deep within us as it is between us.

Feelings of loss, separation, uncertainty, and hopelessness cause havoc with our equilibrium moment by moment. We know the risks of explosive behavior increase in cramped and confined spaces when there is no outlet for the frustration inside us. Our fear is a mirror to the outside world we witness day after day.

But sitting on our hands hoping for the best is not the answer. Nor is shutting out the world. We can and must remain steady, grounded in a loving presence to those around us. But how to do so can be a challenge. Here are five simple techniques to remind us to stay steady and do what is helpful in the moment we are in.

Cultivate a sense of peace and centering within. Meditation, yoga, exercise, poetry, inspirational reading and simple quiet time can restore and bring balance to our lives. Tapping into the source of our being reminds us of our tremendous capacity to create and shape the world around us.

Become informed. You don’t need to be a ‘news junkie’ to relearn our true history.  Read about the experiences of disenfranchised groups. Take time to heal from the early hurts of childhood to see yourself as q powerful ally to others. Explore a variety of news sources to contradict the tendency to limit yourself to a bubble of like-mindedness.

Understand your privilege. Our society is a hierarchy of placement according to the advantages assigned to identities we carry. Being white, male, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied and of economic means assigns value to some groups to the detriment of others. Once you understand the nature of privilege, you can leverage those privileges in ways which bring equity to others.

Reach out to those whose lives have been impacted by poverty, oppression and injustice. Develop lasting relationships. Practice the art of a loving presence. Say less. Listen more. Empathy can be just what someone needs at a given moment to find their way. Be wary of assumptions. Ask first. Well-meaning assumption can have unaware consequences.

Develop a dogged persistence. Follow the example of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who practiced a continuous ‘one step at a time’ philosophy with remarkable results. Brian Stephenson, Martin Luther King Junior, Toni Morrison, Isabel Wilkerson, James Baldwin and countless others are shining examples of persistence in the face of despair. 

 

May these simple steps bring peace to you. May they be a calming presence to others. May they bear fruit to a vision of a world where everyone is cherished and essential to the well-being of all.

 

Steven Jarose

September 26, 2020