We can’t always control life’s circumstances, but, we can use the circumstances we’ve got for something greater.
Like so many of you, my heart is often heavy when reading news headlines, and 2020 has delivered more difficult news than any other year I can remember.
“Just stop reading the news, if it brings you down,” someone might say, and there are certainly days where for my own mental health, I have to take a break.
Yet I keep coming back and reading those news headlines, because I believe this to be true:
We exist within systems, and because we exist within systems, we must look at the health of the whole system as related to our individual health. We cannot truly live lives that are 100% fully alive, while ignoring the suffering of others within that system. We must have the courage to change the world for the better.
Trying to pretend that those terrible news headlines don’t exist is just a form of trying to out-run your fear.
As more and more information has come out about the death of Breonna Taylor, about the ways that police use force, about yet another tragic death that gets reduced to one cop and one person instead of looking at an entire system in need of an overhaul, my frustration and sadness build.
Breonna Taylor should be alive, today.
I put myself in her situation—middle of the night, sleeping in bed, being awoken suddenly when there’s banging on the door, I have an ex-boyfriend who might be upset that I’ve got a new boyfriend…trying to pull those pieces together, quickly: Who’s at the door? How are they getting in? What’s happening? Chaos, confusion, and suddenly the door is being bashed in.
It took less than a minute to end Breonna Taylor’s life—and yes, this applies to you. It applies to you because the health of the larger system you/me/we all swim in, is impacted.
The medicine we need is not heavy sighs—but action (a list of resources for taking action is here).
We take action because that’s what it means to align with integrity.
Integrity isn’t just about doing what we say we’re going to do for our personal goals.
Integrity is a way of being, which means looking relationally at your “way of being” within an entire system.
We must ask ourselves how we are, relationally, with the ecosystem we live within. An ecosystem isn’t just the environment, but includes also our social systems, how we cultivate and share resources, how we stand up for one another when we encounter difficulty or unjust treatment, how we create space and room for people to be who they are.
“But It’s All So Overwhelming!”
Yes, at first it feels that way.
To bring consciousness to any part of your life—to your fear patterns, to your behaviors when you’re in relationship with others, to who you want to be as a parent, and to how you engage with social systems—is always, at first, overwhelming.
It is not always overwhelming, and, the fact of your feeling overwhelm does not mean it’s time to quit.
The overwhelm is an opportunity to dig deeper. You aren’t going to become more resilient by shrinking back every time that overwhelming feeling arises. So, use the moment. Use the opportunity as a chance to become stronger in facing your overwhelm.
Do you believe, fundamentally, that we are not meant to try to do it all, by ourselves? If a friend told you that she had gone through deep pain and had hesitated to reach out to you, would you feel a sense of sadness—a sense of wishing that she had reached out to you, had asked for your help?
–Then you understand already that resilience arises from not trying to do it alone ourselves, and not leaving others alone when they are in their pain.
We have the power to change systems for the better. We just need to practice the courage to change the world.
Breonna and so many other people who have been unjustly killed could be that friend, right now, calling out to you for help.
Don’t make them, or their families, face this pain alone.