Pain is real, it’s subjective, collective, imagined, even infringed on you. Healing hurt and injustices may leave one a ‘scar’ of remembrance. Healing takes time. This June has been marked by a modern day “lynching” some say of George Floyd not marked by the silent protests of years past (see article) but of huge rallies where in some cities like L.A. the protesters reached over 20,000 persons of all colors and races, while in the UK statues of supposed slave traders were knocked down.
Racial disparities are referred to in health and this is also part of the Covid-19 numbers of many Black people who have died, and one of the “black lives matter” claims. We may not be ready for healing, but anger is a big part of this grief process (first referred by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the Stages of Grief, not in this order — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).
I remember what it was like to get pushed around, put down, all for the sake of social games, backlash, for something I did not understand at the time in racial disparities and discrimination. For years I went home hurt and devastated, sometimes even from my “own people” until my mom showed up at my school to “take on” the situation. She was fair and she always stuck up for the underdog no matter what gender or race. Thus, I understood the tough cookie attitude of the mother in one of the best books I read — The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother (c) 1995. This book by James McBride a journalist who talks openly about his own life experience. We can destroy or hate, but if you want to build relationships you must build trust. Since trust has been my issue of study the last years, I’ve naturally been drawn to books like this one (faithfully read near the healing sea …) by Steve Covey.
“Sticks and stones, can break my bones but words will never harm me” a quote that always stuck as it struck a chord with me about strength. Whether you’ve been harassed, bullied, abused, dragged through the mud, when you’ve done nothing wrong. And even if you’ve done ‘something’ you might get away with it, get punished, no one deserves to be killed…. human emotions are real. We all need to see what is projected on us by other people, and for sure people make mistakes, big mistakes. There can be cause to complete distrust to jobs and institutions — we are seeing this clearly in 2020.
From pharmaceuticals to police departments, to government. People are getting beat up and killed for their skin color or their job. From the US to the UK, it’s all there. Guns, punches, fear, smear, anarchy or peace? You help decide. One Mayor went one step further to commemorate “Black Lives Matter” on the street. I say “all lives matter”… we are therapists. Speak truth, walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Help people find the antidote to racism, injustice on all sides.
Maybe you’ve been fighting for your life and for others, but it’s never enough… you get “doxxed” or “gaslighted” when it’s others who are at fault, but somehow they make you feel it’s you. You know what I mean. They don’t see YOU for you they see your appearance, they don’t ask questions, they assume you have “an agenda” are “privileged,” but never see the history and all the sacrifices made. There are others that live for power to “divide and conquer” — this proves to be worse for all years we’ve been working towards community health. Two steps forward, three steps back 😣
In the dark part of the day, like one of those 40 days and 40 nights, part of Covid-19 lockdown as with the biblical story of “Noah’s Ark” I saw the rainbow of hope and told the salesclerk as we looked up. We need to move on. The rainbow is all colors — in a prism coming together becomes white while the absence of color is black. Opposite sides of the spectrum but still together!
We need to sit down and talk. Societies are built and destroyed in a moments notice. Some of this is intentional as I recall from the American History X movie (c) 1998, and the neo-Natzi movement. We often perceive and act on our fears and yes we know stereotypes and racist statements and actions exist. One of the best movies to witness this is Crash which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2004.
I kindly ask that we pray, for loss and healing, and that we don’t label everyone as being part of this global problem. Some countries like Greece have been enslaved and traded for years in antiquity and beyond technically were the same color and race! Again, power and conquest.
Sometimes the “servant” can teach the master so to speak as witnessed in harems of the Ottoman Empire, and in other parts of the Middle East. One story relayed to me about an older woman (now) who had been kidnapped as a 16-year-old because she was beautiful, eventually living as the outcast, never married (because she was taken to the harem) but wise despite her trauma. These women returned to their homes destroyed even as late as the 1960s!!), even though the harems closed in early 1900s supposedly, the last harem closed in 1970s in modern day Turkey! Those who are resilient overcome, others do not and need healing.
So many examples — the arts (Marilyn Monroe & Ella Fitzerald), stories of travelers to South Africa during and after the apartheid. From the religious side, recalling how St. John of Damascus (Syria) in the 7th century was educated in classical studies rivalring much of the Ancient Greek philosophers, eventually converted by his mentor-servant Cosmas (a refugee monk from Greece – Sicily who was sold into slave labor to educate the son of the wealthy merchant) to become one of the most important saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Perhaps people who struggle are also more tolerant of pain, for sure have more compassion. Education and lived experience matter. Having lived in the South in the US, in cities in the North, I know first-hand ! Now with the Covid-19 lockdown we understand fear, loss, anger, denial, compassion.
Martin Luther King in the 1960s marched in peace with several religious and political figures on his side as part of the civil rights movement. One of these supporters was the North American Archbishop of the Greek church, Iakovos, an immigrant himself (archive photos — civil rights movement); more recently in New York, helping the “Black Lives Matter” movement was Archbishop Elpidoforos with mask 😷 — a double message of what’s important for individual and community “health”.
This past Monday, always 49 days after Easter, the feast day of the Holy Spirit was celebrated. At no other time have we needed clarity, enlightenment, and peace.
We will overcome …. someday.