We have work to do. As a nation. As a planet. The weekend's events in Charlottesville are yet another reminder of how far we have to go as a nation. The ever changing climate is showing us where we have to go as a planet. This week I saw a truck flying a large Confederate Flag at Dillon Beach. A nice reminder that I have not escaped that presence here in Liberal Northern California. A old fear trickling down my spine, an alertness I have not experienced in years.
I was saddened to see on Facebook many posts and articles condemning the violence at the white supremacy protests, but none really looking into the why. And certainly none calling for dialogue. (The closest thing was this excellent Heineken ad)I guess I will do that here as uncomfortable as it may be and unpalatable. Yes, I think the White Supremacists, Neo Nazi's and Alt-Right need to be heard. But we will have to get past our own initial reaction to what they symbolize and the past that we Americans try so desperately to hide from. We don't want to remember slavery, Jim crow, the holocaust of Native Americans, or any of the other shameful events that this country is founded upon. We want to move on and pretend it all never happened and enjoy all our shiny things made in China while worrying about Russia.
I often tell my patients when someone says something painful to you, you must first ask yourself if it is true, True with a capital T. If not pass, it is their issue. If there is some truth to what they are saying then, I will often ask them to see if they can hear the truth and ignore the packaging. Packaging can be problematic and here the minority group is cloaked in some ugly costumes of the past making it hard for us to hear what they are trying to say. But I implore you to listen. All of our futures depend on it.
Growing up around Neo Nazis and the like in Southern Idaho, I had to become a good listener. I had to to survive. I was a super minority there and had immigrant parents as well. While the altercations I had as a child and teen were uncomfortable and needlessly shattered my budding self esteem, it has made me stronger and able to hear this group and call it what it is.
Fear. That's it. We all have it. We all express and experience it in different ways. They have it in a certain way. That fear can be assuaged as shown in the movie "Accidental Courtesy". You can find it on Netflix. Some of us fear diving into our family histories out of fear of what we will find that our ancestors did. My favorite exploration of this is the movie "Traces of the Trade" where one family learns that not only did they own slaves, but they were the largest slave trading family. We need to listen to their fear as illogical as it may seem to us. If we can assuage the fear and find common ground we can begin the healing process that needs to happen on this land so we can fulfill the unfinished dream of this country and the ideas and ideals that founded it.
It starts with us. It starts in our thoughts and how we treat ourselves. How we treat others. How we listen to those who agree with us and especially when we listen and engage with those that disagree. We all need to lose the fear we have in confronting someone doing something wrong. We must loose our fear of history as uncomfortable as it is. But we must do so in a way that does not increase their fear. We can do this. You can do this.