As a Shaman, it is my job to help bring the light into the darkest places.
Remember that darkness is simply a lack of illumination.
At a macro-level, helping people to see the faulty structure of today's society, the corruption, the injustice, the divisiveness, comes part and parcel with my journey here.
And yet, I would put forward to you that it is not the macro-level where change occurs.
CHANGE ALWAYS BEGINS WITHIN.
In this time of turmoil, creating a new construct, a new system, is necessary for us to thrive on the planet. And yet, if we are not thriving within, change on the outside cannot take place.
I am obviously not a person of color, and therefore cannot claim to understand fully that viewpoint. All I can do is work to empathize, educate myself, and spread that knowledge to others.
I will put forward, however, that there isn't anyone on the planet that hasn't experienced some kind of prejudice, and it is from that experience that I write my point of view.
Let me start by saying I think it's important to understand the difference between ignorance and being hateful.
Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge or understanding. Someone who is ignorant can be taught.
Being hateful is having or showing a desire to cause someone pain or suffering for the sheer enjoyment of it. Very different than being ignorant.
My experience with hate and prejudice comes from being Jewish. I understand fully Anti-Semitism.
I have experienced hateful Anti-Semites. Those that show outright disdain and hostile tendencies towards those of my lineage. People who have asked me, "Where's all your money?" or people who have claimed "The Jews deserved" WWII.
I have experienced ignorant Anti-Semites. People who have confused Zionism with practicing the religion of Judaism (two totally separate things.)
I have had devout Christians ask me if they could pray for my eternal soul and that Jesus would show himself to me. I told them yes--I'm always open to prayers. These people had no idea they were being rude and therefore I took their intentions the way they were meant. These people weren't being hateful; they truly wanted what was best for me. In my world, intention matters.
I have had a mentor insist that I must put a cross above my bed to protect myself from evil spirts that were causing nighttime attacks and nightmares. He told me I had to get past my attachment to the anger I felt from the Anti-Semitism I had experienced and get past that experience as an emotional trigger. He wasn't wrong. And yet when I said I was uncomfortable with the imagery of the cross--to me it represents torture and death-- he insisted that the strength of the symbol and the protection it would afford me were my only choice from the nightmares I was experiencing. My thoughts and feelings were of no consequence to him. While I agreed that the emotional trigger caused by Anti-Semitism in my life was something it was important for me to heal from the inside out, the work of forgiving him for this experience also became part of that journey.
Standing in my own power and standing by my own beliefs came as a gift from that experience. If you're wondering, I didn't put a cross above my bed...I chose a Dream Catcher with crystals instead. The nightmares did go away.
I can give other examples of prejudice I've experienced-- bullying for being the Teacher's Pet. Sexism from having large breasts. I can't tell you how many times I've had to tell men to speak to my face instead of my chest, or how many times people were surprised by my intellect because of the size of my breasts.
HOW DO WE GET PAST THE PREJUDICE AND THE HURT?
First, we must start by understanding the difference between ignorance and hatefulness. And we must consider intention.
And then we must practice FORGIVENESS.
For those who have been oppressed in any way, the feelings of anger, hate, sadness, fear, confusion, inequality are something that we have to heal on the inside. We heal from the inside not as an indication that what people did to us was okay, but to free ourselves from those emotions that eat us from the inside out.
When someone is first engaging in the process of healing you will see them trying to set boundaries with those that offended/hurt them. Most often those boundaries are set with anger in the forefront because it is the only tool they have at their disposal. Understanding where they behavior and anger comes from allows us to react with compassion instead of defensiveness.
Setting boundaries in a way that protects yourself while still being respectful of the other person is ridiculously difficult. Especially when the offender is not sorry or is still engaging in the hurtful behavior.
Yet when we react with anger, we continue the division that keeps us from healing as an individual and as a society.
Please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying anger isn't warranted and often necessary. In fact, anger is often the first step towards gaining the courage to stand up and create change.
In order to fully effect change we must get beyond the anger to the point where we can work together and communicate in an effective manner. Two triggered people trying to have a conversation often ends badly. Healing your personal triggers means you can communicate more clearly and with less attachment to the outcome, which in turns opens the door for new energy to come in and create metamorphosis.
We cannot change another person. We cannot make them see our point of view. We cannot make them learn something new if they don't want to. And no amount of anger or rage will change that.
What's the old saying about holding anger in your heart is like holding a burning rock in your hand and expecting it to burn the person you are angry at?
SO HOW DO WE CREATE CHANGE?
As individuals, the only person we can control is ourselves, and that is why I say that CHANGE BEGINS WITHIN.
We create change by healing our own triggers. By coming back to center, opening our heart to love, practicing compassion and forgiveness, and letting go of the need to be right.
With those that are hateful we set firm boundaries. Perhaps that is walking away. Perhaps that is involving law enforcement or taking legal action. Perhaps that is working within your local government to effect the laws being created or altered. When you cannot change the viewpoint or actions of another, healthy boundaries are your best tool.
With those that are ignorant yet willing to learn, we take the time to teach. We take the time to give them resources to learn. We have conversations that educate without shaming or blaming. If you are having an angry conversation then it's much harder for the recipient to hear what you are saying. We also listen to their point of view to create understanding and a bridge. And sometimes it is necessary to agree to disagree, but to hold love in our heart instead of judgment.
We take responsibility for our actions and words. If we don't want to live in a divisive world then our behavior has to reflect those values. Complaining about divisiveness and then engaging in that behavior defeats the goal.
And finally, when we do engage in behavior that isn't helpful to our end goal, we have to give forgiveness and compassion to ourselves. We are human. We will make mistakes. The goal is to learn from those mistakes and do better next time.
In this world of duality we will never achieve perfection. I would put forward that the goal is not perfection, but perfect forgiveness. That's the path to the Higher Living Journey.