Heart Reading … Day 75.5

From peace to pain and everything in between

Over the past few days (aside from working crazy hours) I have been particularly aware of the wide swings of heart energy — from full joy and gratitude for birds, and for the work I do and the people I work with, to grief and anger about others’ rude behavior and uninformed opinions.

What is most important to me are the moments I stopped to pause and be present with others with special intention. Here are the few moments my heart filled up just noticing birds doing their thing:

  • I observed a blue heron standing patiently still in a field and striking its prey and then doing a full body flutter,

The great feeling of joy over the past few days leads me, a white person keenly aware of the unreconciled racist history of the United States, to struggle to fully allow myself to hold that joy. It is as if too much joy reinforces — or at least threatens to increase — my complicity in oppressing people of color. It may be a stretch for some people to understand this, but if you’ve done your share of anti-racist education and training, you know what I mean.

So to balance the joy with a (perhaps respectable) dose of harder reality, I read an essay on antisemitism and how it exacerbates white supremacy and I watched a great discussion on immigration. This presenter was asked how “progressives” (or white folk) could be part of the solution; she said, “to not be lazy and to fully educate themselves about settler-colonialism.”

My heart can feel heavy or ladened by hard realities that I learn about and do my best to hold mindfully, especially when it might reignite unreconciled hard realities I have experienced. My heart can also feels grief-stricken by the lack of impact I seem to have trying to respond to random harsh and unmindful things that people in my life — who could be described as “lazy” and not educating themselves — say or do.

…which leads me (and other grief stricken people) to take more action and build more community and weave stronger narratives of solidarity and justice.

The notions of living more simply so others can simply live, the calls to share power and diversify leadership and mandate a representative democracy, are all well and good. But what is actually going to heal the original sins of this country? This is what is on my heart today … and most days … if I’m radically honest.



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Karen Willard Ribeiro

Beyond Karen: emerging from the depths of an epic epithet is available at innerfortune.com and at your favorite independent bookseller. Thanks for reading.