I was out at a restaurant for lunch one Saturday with my family when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Heartache. Overwhelm.
For a big portion of this year, I’ve been leaning into the current state of affairs in the world and connecting more and more with what my role in all this is. I’ll be honest in saying I don’t have all the answers. But I know there is work to be done.
When we talk about privilege – as many conversations have begun to steer towards – it’s really easy to get lost in the theory of it all. And, in ernest, it’s difficult to wrap our heads around all of it if we are just awakening to it. But what’s even more difficult to understand is the privilege that we carry within ourselves.
During that lunch, my son was rattling off all the things he wanted for his upcoming birthday and holiday season. I gazed at him, listening to everything he wanted, and very nicely said, “Babe, which of those toys will you actually play with? If you had to choose only a couple of those, which ones would you really want?” And then, it came out: “Some kids don’t have any toys and won’t be getting any toys for Christmas.”
In that moment, everything I’ve been thinking about the last few months came flooding my mind.
Privilege. Inequality. Exclusion. Prejudice. Judgement. Fear.
But, here’s the thing. I wasn’t looking at all of these “issues” from a distant standpoint. I was actually looking down the barrel of my own privilege, inequality, exclusion, prejudice, judgement, and fear. Oh, so much fear.
And I felt it – finally truly felt it. The pains of humanity. Front and center. In the forefront of my mind. In the forefront of my heart. I felt a lump in my throat form and tears well up in my eyes.
For days, I was at a loss for words to describe that moment. But, as the fog begins to thin, it’s becomes more clear that no matter what opinions, values, or beliefs boil to the surface during these times, the work isn’t in the outer. It’s in the inner. Yes, we need to be aware of the injustices happening in the world. Yes, we need to be awakened to the atrocities built into, operating within, and being perpetuated among our societies. Hiding underneath a rock during these times is no longer an option.
But isn’t it a fair assessment that it’s all for naught if we can’t also become aware and awakened to our own existence? Can we look within ourselves and see how our actions ripple out into the world – good and bad?
You stand for equality, but do you find yourself judging your neighbor’s lifestyle choices and cultural differences?
You stand with those who are negatively affected by world events, but do you also think of how you can turn a tragedy for profit in your favor?
You stand for environmental issues, but do you know how the products you’re choosing to purchase affects Mama Earth and the people involved in creating them?
You stand for peace, but do you fight fire with fire when your worldview or opinion is threatened?
You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be horrified. You are allowed to speak up. My goodness, it’s time we’re pissed the fuck off. It’s time we stand on two feet, grounded and steady. But if we take the approach of just seeing what’s wrong, but not feeling what’s wrong, then more of the same shit will be planted and the exact same repercussions will be reaped. Maybe you’ll have rallied like-minded people around you, but we’ll be no better off than when the current approach took hold of humanity.
Whether you currently find yourself on a spiritual journey, a religious quest, or a mixture of both, we can’t deny that the work ahead involved is a messy, uncertain, and, at times, painful one. Love and light, hope and faith aren’t the only tenants to adhere to at this time. Spiritual highs isn’t the only component to navigating these days. To taste the highs of life, we can’t deny the lows.
The biggest lesson for me this year has been one of getting down and dirty. That is, into the depths of my wounds and hidden pains. Without having the tools and practices to support me in leaning into these, I wouldn’t have been able to see the role I’ve played and what role I now need to assume.
And so the question isn’t, “What can I do?” But, “How can I BE the change?”