A dozen years ago I was sitting in a therapist’s office processing the emotions of a divorce that I did not want. I was talking about my anger. “I am angry about…”, “I am so mad about…”, “I am frustrated…”
My therapist looked at me and simply said, “Every time you say anger or mad replace that word with the word hurt. “I am hurt about…” Suddenly my wall of reserve, the dam holding back my deeper emotions, cracked, and the pain came reeling out as I crumpled into sobs of tears.
I learned in that moment how much easier it is to feel anger than to feel the pain that is being pushed down and hidden beneath the surface. Pain, grief, and sorrow are hard to process – it can really rattle us to our core and can put us into a place we feel that we might not be able to recover from. So instead, it’s human nature to feel anger. Anger is safer to feel than pain.
When you look today at all of the anger in our neighborhoods, our communities, our country – see the pain. I do not condone violence, looting, or menacing behaviors. But I see the rage, and I know the flip side of rage and anger is a pain. The deeper the pain the higher the rage. People are hurting. Grief, sorrow, and threads of an oppressive history are coursing through the veins of many of our neighbors.
There is a strong desire for many to stand together and protest – to demand justice. Coming together is a powerful move. But the violence, the looting, and the destruction of neighborhoods, while a symptom of pain, only adds more despair to the situation. When people feel invisible, unworthy, and are not being heard – they lash out. It’s a scream, “Look at me, I am here, I matter.”
Let this moment be the tipping point where we all collectively say enough is enough. Real change is needed. We need to do something to come together and heal. I certainly do not know the answers. But we need to pause, listen, and really hear the anger, the agony, and the despair. We cannot be dismissive. We cannot be divided. We cannot look away. We must see. We need to make real change. There is so much wrong right now. It feels helpless, but it’s not. We all have the power to make a positive difference and to help unite our communities.
Our world is different right now with many of us social distancing, people are hurting economically, food lines are long, business doors are shut, schools and churches typically a safe place to come together to share, learn, process, and heal are closed. All of this means that we might need to work a bit harder to reach out and stay connected. To look outside our circles of comfort.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It is time to have some sobering conversations around our dinner tables, with our friends and neighbors. This document of resources is a great place to start learning: Anti-Racism for White People put together by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020. This list includes many articles, podcasts, videos, and books worth exploring. I have seen a few of the documentaries listed, and I can attest to the power of knowledge. Learning and understanding is one place to start.
I believe that we are strong, that love overcomes hate, that we all have the capacity to learn, but first me must listen and truly hear. We must stand together for justice and equality for all of our people.