Posts Tagged ‘spirituality and social justice’

There is hope.

I am sitting in Starbucks and scrolling through Facebook. The news is horrible and gets worse every day. I turn away from the feed, from the news, from all forms of media long enough to get my bearings. I have been nauseous and dealing with anxiety, mostly due to the belief that I have to do something to change the situations of, for example, the kids in detention centers. Over the last couple of weeks, I have signed up for two volunteer organizations that work with displaced kids. I have called my representatives and joined the Democratic clubs around my area. And guess what? Absolutely nothing has happened. No one has contacted me from any of the organizations with whom I enlisted. I have learned three lessons from this experience of total frustration and impotence when it comes to changing the fundamental realities of our country at the moment:

1. Change does not happen quickly. Even when we feel that a situation has to be remedied RIGHT NOW, the wheels of justice turn slowly. It might take months or years to see the kind of reform we feel should happen immediately. That means that we need to be patient, resilient, and PERSISTENT. The news cycle moves quickly, but we must not fall into the trap of forgetting what matters just because social media has moved on to the next horror. By the way, did you all know that thousands of people died in Puerto Rico in the last hurricane? Did you all know that many people are still in danger due to lack of electricity and resources? Nobody cares anymore, because that is no longer a current news story. Make sure that your compassion HAS NO TIME LIMITS.

2. You are probably unable to alter the fundamental nature and consequences of racism, provincialism, sexism, intolerance, and all manner of behavior that has fear as its motivating force.

3. HOWEVER: You can recognize and release YOUR racism, provincialism, sexism, intolerance and fear. In fact, if you don’t this first, you’re of no use to anyone else.

I know. YOU are not any of those things. I get it. I used to proclaim the same thing. Then I realized that fear motivates me to behave in destructive ways towards myself and others. I had the opportunity in my classroom to see my prejudices in action: I ignored far too often the autistic students because I couldn’t ‘deal’ with them. I blamed my students for laziness when they arrived late, only to discover that some of them were taking three busses to get to Pierce and had to walk their siblings to school in the morning. My intolerances show up on a regular basis. My false assumptions about reality pop up in ugly, self destructive ways every day. I am in the process of releasing these emotions and thoughts that serve no one. It’s extremely hard to do: it’s easier to hate Trump supporters and unfriend people who disagree with you, to label all conservatives as heartless assholes, than to look deep into your soul and ask how you are part of the problem. Does your anger prevent you from taking any action at all? Does your anxiety and fear paralyze you, so that calling your congressional representative is impossible, because you’ve convinced yourself that it wouldn’t make any difference? Do you get sick to your stomach and not sleep due to your outrage, only to find that you’re too exhausted the next day to sign up as a volunteer for the kids?

If you are allowing your emotions to rule you and your hatred to dominate the conversation, you are not helping. The kids in the camps don’t need your outrage. They need your action.

Another trap I fall into is believing that working on myself is ‘selfish’ and a waste of time when people are suffering out in the world. This is a false belief. You can’t do anything when you’re sick with horror. I had stopped meditating and connecting with Spirit, thinking that I had to take action in the world, or I was useless. Of course, this attitude kept me running in circles. I accomplished nothing when I was in DO SOMETHING NOW mode. My energy was frantic, uncontrolled, chaotic, and the Universe responded with NOTHING. The energy you bring to an issue, any issue, will be reflected back to you for better or for worse. Change yourself before you change the world, because until you do, you will fail to help anyone else. When anxiety and fear motivate your social justice efforts, you will be thwarted every, single, time. Yesterday, I decided to get back to meditation and prayer. I felt such an intense surge of energy rush through my body that I spent most of the night wide awake. But today, something has shifted. I feel different.

My guilt, fear, panic, depression, and hopelessness were paralyzing me. Nothing good can happen for anyone when I give in to these emotions and to negative thoughts about the shitty state of the world. I have no choice but to let all of that go and approach the problem from a state of grace and love. How do you do that? Spend time in prayer and/or meditation every day and completely let go of your thoughts and emotions surrounding the issue that is gnawing at your soul. Stop believing that your anger and upset are in any way useful or necessary. Let all of it go.

Then, go to this link and fill out the papers to be a volunteer: https://supportkind.org/
Or, call/contact your local representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Here’s another good organization: https://asylumadvocacy.org/get-involved/
Or, if you are willing to foster a child separated from his/her parents, go here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/children/foster-care.cfm

DO SOMETHING. But for the love of God, make sure that any action you take is from a place of love and compassion. Your demons will not angels make.

–Kirsten A. Thorne

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