I imagine we will all remember 9/11, the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., the election of President Barack Obama and the shocking embarrassment of Donald Trump’s election, the Parkland shootings, George Floyd, the anti-Asian violence and the physical and emotional trauma of the pandemic, January 6th, and so many other tragic and sad events that have left its imprint on the crumbling conscience of this nation’s long history of violence and discrimination. Now, in the year 2022 we will remember Roe v. Wade…before and afterwards, where we were and how it affected our sense of safety and trust.
One day after the outrageous SCOTUS decision, I was to facilitate an online workshop. As you can imagine, I was angry, sad, disappointed, feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the radically violent racist and sexist direction this country was taking. As I pondered whether or not to keep my agenda (about code-switching) or talking about the impact of Roe v. Wade…I realized there was no way of not talking about it.
When I started the session, I could see the heaviness on everyone’s faces. I was reminded of all the times growing up in the sixties that same kind of sense of fatalism and loss of faith that goodness would ever again triumph over evil. It seemed as if all our best leaders were being assassinated and even worse, that no one was coming to rescue us out of this endless morass of hatred and war, lies and false prophets.
And yet, though this all seemed so deja vu, as if history were repeating itself, I am reminded that all that we went through in the sixties and seventies – life still went on, however painful and disappointing. We survived and so does each generation. And though we became more guarded and jaded, we also became more determined and focused, more organized. We used our anguish and disappointment to create something that none of us could have predicted: that perhaps the leaders we were looking for were really ourselves. We became the change we were looking for.
A white man recently said at the end of one of my workshops: It’s all about love. To which I responded: No, love is just the beginning. Love is enlivened and made real when it is transformed into curiosity, taking responsibility, practicing empathy, self-reflection and the willingness to change. To me, it is where the road ends, that the path begins.
I believe that the hope that we are all looking for is really in each other and with each other. We have only to see our fears for what they are: false evidence appearing real. How true and yet so difficult to overcome. As I wrote recently,
Life isn’t based on the conditions we place on it.
For life is neither good nor bad. It is both.
And if we choose, so much more…