Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reflections On Why We March

This tiny child and his sign sums it all up perfectly.
This little boy's father said these are his son's words.
With my son, Matt, at the Women's March in Portland.
On January 21st of this year there were up to 4.5 million women, men, and children who marched in the United States and worldwide in the Women's March. There have been many marches drawing enormous crowds since then. I believe that it is important to illuminate the deeper truths of why we march. This is especially true as a counter to the polarizing propaganda which continues to assault us all with justifications for building walls of judgment and separation rather than bridges of understanding, caring, and compassion with one another as individuals, within families and communities, and within our nation and across the planet. Divided we are a conquered people. My hope and intention, always, is to lift the veils of our misunderstandings and misinformation which keep us separated rather than connected with each other and the Sacred web of life we all share.

Alfie Kohn summed up the wave of outrage, resistance, and profound concern that rippled outward across the planet in his article, "Narcissist-in-Chief: The Psychopathology That Explains Donald Trump's Depravity" - - "His election—along with Republican control of both Houses of Congress and more than two thirds of state legislatures—will almost certainly precipitate an assault on civil rights, civil liberties, environmental protections (including a reversal of early, tentative steps to deal with global climate change), consumer protections, reproductive rights, gay rights, workers' rights, prisoners' rights, humane immigration policies, aid to the poor, gun control, antimilitarism, support for public education, and on and on. It will be bad enough for an individual deeply committed to any one of these issues; for those interested in all of them, it will be difficult to absorb, let alone summon outrage about and become active in opposing, a tidal wave of reactionary policies likely to continue on a daily basis for many years."

This article by Alfie Kohn written on December 4th, 2016 was prophetic in it's accuracy of what has evolved in just a matter of a few short weeks since the inauguration of our 45th president. Many of us, at least to some degree, saw this tidal wave of oppression, destruction, and violence coming after the election, and now that it is here in full-force, our hearts are breaking. Simply breaking. This deep grief, and commitment to love and protection of our children and all children everywhere, is rippling out across the land in our country and that of other nations. And one of the ways that it is manifesting is in the fierce compassionate actions demonstrated by countless people of different races, religions, ethnicities, ages and genders who have taken to the streets and airports and Native lands and more. There is a recognition that what is unfolding today is beyond your "normal" but dangerous neoliberalism and neoconservatism. This is all those toxic dangers on steroids.

In seeking to address here why we march, I am in no way saying that there is a box into which there is a simplistic one-size-fits-all answer. There is not. That said, there are shared roots which have propelled myself and millions of others across the country and the world to come together unified in our desire to nurture a world where, as the little boy's sign above states, we are simply demonstrating individually and collectively what it is to be "a good person."

Of course, we all like to think of ourselves as being a good person. And it is my perspective that we humans do indeed have beauty and love and basic goodness as the essence of who we are. My spiritual beliefs today have evolved to hold as true that it is the Sacred, rather than sinfulness, that we are imbued with and that this Sacred thread weaves through and connects us with all of life. So how can I judge you as being unworthy of love and care and protection and kindness if you are holy and if you are part of the wholeness of who I am? This is what I continue to remind myself of - that we are all reflections of that which is holy and that we are all connected, all related, all matter. I believe this is the wisdom of our souls.

Then we are born, and there is much that we often forget. Instead of experiencing modeling which teaches unconditional love, kindness and caring, empathy and compassion, and how to trust and form secure attachments, many of us are taught fear, punishment, shame, and separation. We can learn in our families, our religions, and/or our cultures harmful belief systems that penetrate and wound our hearts, minds, and spirits. And that is the beginning our injured instincts, of our distorted and fragmented sense of self, of our separation and the walling up of our hearts, and of our lost sense of connection with the Sacredness of one another, other beings, and our Earth Mother. Our connection with God/Goddess/Spirit/Mystery - or however we experience and know the One - is ruptured. 

In this original disconnect and splitting off and turning away are the seeds which are mirrored in our turning away from others in their suffering. If we cannot see and feel and wrap compassionate, tender, and loving arms around our own suffering, how can we do that with depth and consistency with others? We cannot. It is not that we are bad people, which would only be a belief system that just heaps more shame and blame on an already injured soul. We are simply injured and in need of healing and in need of awakening to our own suffering and joy. As we gradually dismantle our protective walls and defensive belief systems, everything shifts. What we could not see before is now coming into view. We are learning to see which our hearts.

Today we live in a culture which often indoctrinates us into fortifying our hearts, normalizing and blindness to the suffering of ourselves and others, and developing a high tolerance for violence. Actually, in our nation this goes back to the earliest days of slavery and genocide of Native peoples, to the plundering of the Earth and the slaughter of species of animals, to the burning times and the denigration of women and the Sacred Feminine, and more - the unlearned lessons and suffering of which continues to impact our society today. What we do not heal does not just go away. This is how the unhealed wounds of the past penetrate and live on in the present. As I open the eyes of my heart wider and wider which each year as I grow older, I am able to see more and more clearly how it is that harm perpetuates itself. I am also able to recognize the profound forces of healing, love, and compassion.

It is both incredibly humbling and empowering to experience how it is that we humans all fall somewhere on this continuum of closed-heartedness on the one end and open-heartedness on the other. We are such complex beings and are all, to one degree or another, walking contradictions. That said, I am aware that we can nurture what it is that helps us to grow and root more deeply into the authenticity, strength, wisdom, and love of our wholeness. Part of this is recognizing and becoming mindful of how we feed our Selves. Do we turn to sources which nourish our hearts and to help us to grow our circles of caring larger and larger? Or are we taking in stories which subtly or overtly promote judgment, fear, separation, and the demonization of an "Other." The empathic failures of these times ask of us to inquire more deeply - What do I love? Who do I care about? On the continuum of exclusivity on the one end and inclusivity on the other, where do I fall? Who do I allow into my circle of caring? Who do I exclude? And why?

My husband and I recently saw an interview on television where a group of women who voiced their support of Donald Trump were asked about why it is that they endorse policies that would exclude refugees and immigrants. The women expressed consensus that they needed to protect their children. They were next asked how they feel about the children of immigrants and refugees who are experiencing great horror and trauma and violence and death? There were flashes on the TV of suffering refugee families and children desperately trying to flee unimaginable horror. One woman volunteered an answer that appeared true of all of the women being interviewed. She responded, "If we allow ourselves to be emotional, that would be the end of our country."

This illuminates what it looks like to not see the suffering of others. Those outside of this small circle of caring simply do not matter and there is no consideration of any need to open the doors of understanding of their suffering. To the degree that any of us are empathically impaired and lacking in information, curiosity, and conscious awareness of the suffering of others is the degree that we are vulnerable and likely compelled to add to this suffering rather than lessen it.  This split between our heads and our hearts impairs our capacity to hear the cries of the Earth or other children or other species. And in not hearing, we unknowingly collude in the great harming that has been part of our human existence over the course of generations and millennia

It is hard work to heal our fragmented selves. Believe me, I understand this as someone who has been on my own healing path for over 30 years. I am humbly and gratefully aware that this process of awakening and shedding the obstacles to my loving true nature is a lifelong process. Growing into wholeness is an amazing and miraculous journey. 

So why do we march? I am not going to break it down into this reason or that because I experience how all is related. I am able to see how it is that the suffering of my Hispanic, Muslim, Black, Native, LBGTQ brothers and sisters is not disconnected from the suffering caused by belief systems and economic systems which perpetuate and cause growing and extreme poverty, obscene redistribution of wealth upward, global warming and species extinction, resource depletion and wars, child abuse and neglect, racism and sexism, oppression and mass incarceration, polarizing propaganda and late stage toxic capitalism, neoliberalism and neoconservativism, and on and on. These are among the countless faces of violence and suffering. And this is why we march.  

We know that we must insist and demand a shift away from that which separates and destroys to that which nurtures connection and compassion, peace and sustainability, kindness and caring, and remembrance of all that is Sacred. This is also why I write - to illuminate how it is that we can open ourselves to new stories, ones which our children and grandchildren and those children yet unborn will be grateful we fought so hard for.

Please know that I recognize and respect that getting out and marching is not for everyone. My deep hope and prayer is simply that each and every one of us finds our unique way of increasingly contributing to the healing and wholeness of this beautiful world we share.

Bless us all ~ Molly 

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren,
and to do good is my religion.
-Thomas Paine

The Portland Women's March

No comments: