Emotions, Health, And Social Justice.
If you follow me on social media, I often talk about #emotionalliteracy. I believe with all my heart, that we cannot change our world without emotional literacy, the same emotional literacy that affects out physical health. It's holistic - everything affects everything. Look at the state of social justice issues. Look at the health of our citizens. Both have a lot that is lacking.
President L. B. Johnson, in 1964, as he signed the Civil Rights Act said, "This Civil Rights Act is a challenge to all of us to go to work in our communities and our states, in our homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country." Yet here we are AGAIN in 2020. What I see if that we haven't done enough work on the "hearts" part.
How do you work on someone's heart? Well, first, you don't. We each have to work on our own heart. While policy and law changes are needed, really changing the way our society operates, changing out culture, has to come from the level of our belief. That is the place that behavior and action are born. It's easy to say #alllivesmatter and really believe it because it's easy to look away from a situation that isn't immediate and painful for you personally. Martin Luther King, Jr, wrote these words while he sat in a jail in Birmingham, AL, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
I'd like to translate that to say "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, but only until it hits you in the heart."
In today's world, the words that appear on the tombstone of Martin Niemöller has become recognizable to many. "First they came for the Communists...Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
But this was not his view during the rise of Nazi-ism. Like most Protestant pastors, Niemöller was a national conservative and welcomed Hitler's accession to power in 1933, believing that it would bring a national revival. Niemöller himself never denied his own guilt in the time of the Nazi regime. He was however, emotionally open enough to allow life to give him perspective. In 1936, he signed the petition of a group of Protestant churchmen which sharply criticized Nazi policies and declared the Nazis' Aryan requirements incompatible with the Christian virtue of charity.
I live in South Carolina. In the past four years, I've been watching history actively repeating. There was several periods where I felt fear for my life, even thought the constitution that I'm a citizen under, gives me "certain unalienable Rights...among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I live among people who claim to be Christian yet will lash out when the human rights conversation takes one step outside of their religious beliefs. It's as if they cannot grasp that the laws of this country are not the same as their religious laws and the constitution protects their religious practice. It's been a really interesting watching people I've known for years, and companies I support, choose which side of history to stand on in these times.
Just so I'm clear, #blacklivesmatter. It has to because MY life matters.
And what does that have to do with love?
Everything! Love is the feeling we all aim for. We all, in EVERY area of our life, want to feel loved. Not just romantic love. We want to feel that level of appreciation from friends, at work, with our clients, we want to feel like we matter and that our life means something. The funny thing about love is that however you think you're giving it, it's up to the receiver if they see it as love, or not. So it's important for us to listen to others, so that we show them love in a way they can see love. If someone is hurting, ignoring their pain, negating it with stories of your own pain, or nullifying it by claiming no responsibility, is not loving to the sufferer. Even if we are not responsible for that instance of suffering, it diminishes us as a fellow human being to ignore someone else's pain (unless we're already made small by our own unresolved pain). We kill our own humanity when we ignore another human who is hurting. It lifts us when we lift others, especially when we have to step outside of our own discomfort to do it. That is shared humanity. That is healing. That is love.
Life is holistic. Everything affects everything. Doesn't matter if you seek an emotional change, a health change or a societal change. The fixing always has an internal component. It's the work WE ALL MUST DO. Here are two links to get you started.
With you, to better all humanity,