The last few days have been pretty difficult for me. With the up-tick of unrest in Minneapolis, and the same repetitive rhetoric that gets spouted from both sides of the aisle in what happened versus what is happening. It can be tough to remain positive.
For me, it’s difficult to understand the “why” behind the actions of someone whose job it is to maintain the peace, not disturb it more than it was.
I find it hard to face the ongoing recurring justifications and accusations that go around and around and around again.
At what point do we, as a people, and we as a country, come to terms with each other?
When do we finally stop pointing fingers and instead open minds? When do we look at each other as human beings, rather than labels, and livestock?
Here’s how I make it make sense. To me,
Our country’s history has relatively equal parts light and dark. Much like a person dealing with depression and anxiety, it tries to put on a happy face, when deep down inside, there’s a nagging trauma that needs to be resolved. A series of traumatic moments that need to be said out loud, acknowledged, and addressed.
Unfortunately, like most people who face issues of poor mental health, the trauma is hard to see, and it’s even harder to describe. So those that don’t understand it, discredit it as false, or fake. Those whose lives are in good standing choose to look the other way or ignore it so not to disturb their quality of life or the natural flow of their day.
But our country and its citizens have not properly addressed the different moments of traumatic damage that have happened in its youth. And much like unresolved issues from the past, they have a tendency to make themselves known at a time and place that interferes with what is comfortable to the general public. And sometimes those outbursts are loud, and they are violent.
A person who experiences a problem with mental health has an internal struggle no one sees. And that struggle can be brutal. And sometimes, many times actually, all that needs to be done to ease the pain of the struggle is for someone to listen. Someone to hear what another person is experiencing and connect. To be an empathetic ear and to care. As a listener this can be difficult to do. But trust me, when a person cares, that sentiment is felt and appreciated.
That sentiment is, to me, what is missing with our citizens. Because we are a proud bunch. And by most accounts, we should be very proud. Winning our independence, our role in toppling an evil dictator, successes in industry, modern medicine and science, education. As a country, we’ve done a lot of good work!
Unfortunately, though, we have not been good to ourselves. To our insides. On the outside, at work, we kick ass! But internally, in our bodies and our minds, we are falling apart. Because we won’t address, acknowledge, and appropriately come to terms with our traumatic youth. With our history.
America is beautiful. But it was built on the backs of the poor, the immigrant, and the slave. And today, the descendants of those valuable and worthwhile souls continue to see neglect, and few of them have managed to succeed beyond that of their ancestors. They remain, the poor, the immigrant, and the slave.
America is vast and expansive. But it had to be conquered. The native was corralled, the Mexican was subdued, the Asian abused, and the slave was a slave. Today, the descendants of those conquered people are reliving the stories of brutality passed down to them by their ancestors and re-experiencing them live and in color as if time had stood still these past two hundred and fifty plus years. So the conquered remain the conquered and not the equal.
America is Opportunity. However, that opportunity is mostly limited to those with financial means. And those with financial means have had a nearly 200 year head start. And good for them, they should be allowed to revel in their wealth. Who’s to say right or wrong to it. But today, hard work is not nearly enough to make ends meet as it used to. Hard work barely pays the bills, let alone pay for an education toward greater opportunity.
But America is still young. And as it happens, in most processes of growth, there are pains. No childhood is perfect. Anyone will tell you that. And there are countless stories of troubled children who found healing and success even after the experience of growing up in a troubling environment.
In my experience, however, true healing only comes about after exposing and acknowledging what is disturbing from the past and addressing the feelings and emotions associated therein. Taking that pain seriously, and then talking through it. This is most important.
For someone experiencing issues with mental and emotional health distress, much like our country’s distressful past, there is no “just getting over it.” “That was ancient history” are not magic words that, poof, a person becomes healed from. And for many, “just look toward the future” is as ineffective as folding your arms and blinking your eyes to make the pain go away.
No. A genuine conversation needs to take place where we discuss the existing wounds from the past that have continued to be salted by similarly recurring oppressive behaviors. A meaningful conversation, free of the fact-based volleys that populate a battlefield debate of history, but full of questions and answers where we learn about our country’s history from its source. From the people.
This is why I believe that our healing only happens in our neighborhoods and in our communities. For everyone to see, especially our children. If we model in our communities what we want for our world, then our children will take that example, they will run with it, and make it better. But it has to be positive and it has to be all inclusive.
First, we need healthy and heart-felt conversations. Not lectures where you teach me about me, and I teach you about you. Meaningful discussions where you learn from me, and I learn from you.
And then we celebrate our differences, rather than fear them.
We can do this because this is America. We truly can do whatever we put our minds to doing. We’ve proven it time and again in the past. America is beautiful INSIDE and OUT.
We just need to realize it, talk about it, give ourselves time to heal, and then show the world what we are truly made of.
America is Beautiful. And she is capable of so much. Let’s work together to heal the hurt and truly make ourselves better than ever.
May the Lord’s blessings be upon all of you! And God Bless America!