Is inner peace our birthright? Do we have an inherent right to inner peace simply because we exist? I don’t know if it is our birthright or not, but I can tell you this: peace is one of the attributes I request the most, particularly in the last 8 years.
And I know why I request this attribute. It’s because I believe I can’t do my work effectively if I am not at peace. This belief is the reason why self care is so important to me. If I want to be effective in the work I do in the world, I must be at peace.
Plus there’s that pesky little law of attraction that tells me I attract what I am. Which I believe to be true as well.
So I strive for peace when I don’t have it. When something pisses me off, I retreat to my cave to restore myself. That’s my first stop in self care. The next stop is processing: what am I feeling, allowing those feelings, expressing them in appropriate ways to allow them to move on out of here, then replacing those feelings with ones that once again allow me to go out into the world and do what is mine to do, effectively.
Repeat as necessary. And yes, it’s been necessary a lot since 2016. A lot.
But what if who I am, by nature of my birthright, means I can’t even begin to expect to be peaceful in this world? What if, by virtue of the color of my skin, I am faced with things that piss me off on a daily basis? On an hourly basis? How might that affect my beliefs? If I were a person of color, would peace even be on my list of things to do? Most likely not. Most likely I’d be more concerned with survival. Simple survival. Except it isn’t that simple. Simply walking out the door means, if you are a person of color, that you are entering a war zone. A place where you must constantly be on guard.
I know only a little of what that is like. As a woman, I know to be aware of my surroundings, to practice situational awareness. I know to always check the back seat of my car before getting into it. I know to always have some sort of weapon handy and to know how to use said weapon. I know some very basic defense moves. I am very aware that in a world in which many men think that women are second class citizens, I am considered prey by those men. Yeah, like most prey animals, I’m a little jumpy, especially when someone who thinks it’s ok to grab women by the pussy gets elected. When a predator gets elected. Which, if you haven’t connected the dots by now, is why it’s been necessary for me to repeat my little peace process since 2016. It’s when that pussy grabber got elected.
Why does this threaten me so much? Because we tend to emulate our leaders. This guy gets elected, and all of a sudden people have overt permission to behave as this guy behaves. They have permission to be bullies, to grope women, to belittle physically challenged people, to be judgmental, to use violence against people who disagree with them, to use more violence if they don’t get their way, to seek revenge, to carry the distorted and hateful message of white Christian nationalism. All of a sudden, the world is filled with people like this. They used to hide in the shadows. With that one election, all of a sudden they are coming out of the woodwork like super-cockroaches, no longer hiding in the dark but boldly standing in the light of day.
It’s no wonder I’m a bit jumpy. A bit prickly.
Now, if I were a different person, I would retaliate in kind. But I’m not. I’m a spiritual person. I live, breathe and move in spirituality. I believe in the power of unconditional love to heal all things. Oh, don’t get me wrong, if some bully threatens me I can and will defend myself; I have in the past and will do so again. By the way, those of you who think women should dress down so they don’t cause men to behave in inappropriate ways? Shame on you. Those of you who think boys will be boys? No. Teach those boys some respect, not that they have the right to accost a woman because she is dressed in a certain way. Those of you who think women who sleep around are sluts but men who do so are manly? Shame on you too. Those of you who think men are the head of the household? Nope. Not buying that one either. That one came from fragile men distorting the message of Jesus so they could shore up their delicate and large egos. And here I am, angry again. Yeah, prickly.
Let me try this again. Back to love. Breathing. Back to love. Ok, that’s better.
I believe in non-judgment, knowing that judging others ultimately hurts me more than anything else. I believe in forgiveness. I know the futility of attempting revenge and how opposite such a principle is to all of my beliefs. I know and believe in the concept of Oneness, and that it is thus my job to be peace and love as much as I can, because what I do and how I show up in the world does effect others. And quite frankly I’d rather affect them with love and peace than with bullying and judgment and revenge.
But the basic question remains, and is one I’ve been returning to: I’m white. I’m privileged because I don’t have to struggle to survive on a daily basis. The ism I experience is much more subtle than the ism people of color experience. They get blatant attempts on their very lives. I saw a postcard the other day that showed about a dozen black people, all dead, hanging from trees. A postcard! This morning I saw a video in which some white guy was talking about being white meant to be both a savior and a conqueror. He talked about white America and said this country was designed for them. And I got FURIOUS hearing that bullshit. That utter nonsense. The arrogance!
And I expressed my anger and a person who I respect responded to my comment with this quote from James Baldwin:
"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time."
Yeah. So I’m privileged. I’m not in a rage most of the time. Only part of the time.
And yeah, self care is a big fat hairy deal. Because we can’t go out in the world and expect to do effective work if we are angry.
So this is what I am up to now. Self care and social justice. The two go hand in hand. We cannot do our work effectively in this world unless we care for ourselves first.