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Out from the shadows.....

I seem to live, as most people I believe, caught up in a dynamic tension between the events going on in my own life verses the realities and events of the rest of the world. Its like one eye on what is happening in my own life and another on the rest of the world, starting with my community and including my state, nation, and then the world.

As one who believes in the importance of self-examination and awareness, I spend a fair amount of time looking inward, trying to understand myself and what is going within. Where am I now at this point in my life? What goals do I have? How will I move forward and work toward those goals? What lessons has the universe presented to me of late and am I getting the message? Where do I need to grow and how can I do that. Lots of questions with some responses and very few concrete answers.

When I look beyond myself to the rest of the world, and particularly to the events in the United States, I at times simply sit back and stare in disbelief. In some ways the progress and developments that have made just in my lifetime are amazing. This is especially true as it relates to technology, communications, science, and the like. Things seem to advance and change so fast it is a full time job just to keep up with it all.

But in other ways it seems as a culture and a country we are stuck or have even lost ground. I think back to my first jobs out of college and all of them had very good health insurance plans that were reasonably priced for us to add the family plan and decent co-pays and all of that. Looking back on all of that 30 years ago, I had in my head then that over time health insurance would just get better and better and easier to obtain and more affordable. But that is not what happened.

Over time it seems things got harder, less available, and more expensive. I am no social engineer or health care expert. I just know that the last time I transitioned between jobs I was faced with purchasing insurance from a private entity, not related to any employer, and it was difficult, expensive and not a great experience. In my work I meet clients regularly who have no access to health care beyond the state provided policy (and are grateful for that) and I see all of the difficulties they have without access to preventive and regular health care. I just thought over these many years things would have gotten better, not worse. But here we are.

Then there is all of the turmoil and angst over the events in Charlottesville and honestly I see the images and read and listen to all that went on and is going on and I am stunned. Not that in my heart of hearts I can't believe it is happening, because I can believe it. Over all my years I have consistently and regularly been exposed to and rubbed up against racism and hatred and discrimination. It has been a steady and persistent presence in my life no matter where I have gone and no matter what I have done. Not so much at me personally, but part of the air I breath, the water I swim in, the reality I exist in. I have seen it expressed and effectuated in so many ways over all these years. So I know it has not gone away or been eradicated, but rather, it simply had crawled into a deeper pit, gone underground, or stayed hidden. But I knew and have known that it is alive and well in our society.

But now that too seems to have changed. Now it is not so subtle. Now it is not hidden. Now it is not layered behind closed doors within a civil society and only expressed in ways that hide or mask what is truly going on and how people actually feel and believe about others. No, the hatred and discrimination and racism has found its voice and has been emboldened to speak and act out on all of their hatred and lies. The fire has been stoked and permission granted to step forward, to go public, and be proud.

On the one hand I am stunned at that as I look back on all that has happened in the world since the 60's and 70's to now. Like health insurance I thought it would get better, that it would improve, that we would be past all of that. I thought in my lifetime that people would learn to appreciate difference and diversity and that we would find ways to accept others and live together in peace. I thought and believed that we could find a way to respect all people no matter what the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their sexual preferences. While some of that has gotten better in some ways, in so many ways it has not and the lies and hatred from years gone by have been taught to new generations and they are now more empowered and more bold about expressing that hatred then ever before.

While this is awful and wrong and unacceptable, I am also grateful that to the extent it exists it is being brought out of the shadows and into the light. Because it is very difficult to address what is hidden. But once out into the light and the masks are taken off and people say what they really mean and do so in public view, then we are able to confront it, to talk about it, to respond to it, and hopefully find ways to end it and begin to heal from it. But at this point we have such a long way to go.

So while I am not sure how we got to the point where those who believe in this kind of hatred and racism feel so free to publicly express it, I am actually relieved that they do. It forces a response and a discussion about the issues and gives me hope that this then is the beginning of the end for all of that. That this is the beginning of not only a healing, but an end to this kind of thought. No doubt we have lots of work to do and this will take much time and energy. But it feels like finally their boldness has now drawn into the conversation a much broader audience. It feels like the power and the voices of those who believe in diversity, in respect, in unity, and in acceptance have been awakened so that once united together, we can begin to move our country beyond this level of hate and discrimination.

I have no quick answers or solutions. Just like the health care issues our country faces the solutions to these issues are also complicated and entangled. But that does not give us reason to not act or to not speak out. As each person finds their voice and accepts responsibility for their own lives and actions, we can move forward together. It just takes all of us to stand together, to speak together, and with love to say NO. To make clear that this is not OK and that we will not stand by and let this kind of evil and hatred dictate our future.

So much of our history, while it has racism and discrimination throughout all of it, also contains the lives and voices and stories of so many of our greatest leaders who gave their lives, talents and energies to overcome all of this and it is, I believe, upon each of us to carry that message forward and stand together against this attack. So that maybe in 30 more years our kids and their kids are not facing the same issues that not so long ago we felt were being addressed and taken care of. There is much to do but I believe that it is still within our grasp.

So I encourage you to join me, to take the journey within to see where your heart and consciousness lie on these issues and then go forward boldly. Speak from your heart. Live out these values in ways that others can see and model themselves after. And whatever you do please understand that silence is not ok in the face of the evil that currently walks amongst us. It has come out from the shadows and we must face it head on.

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