Holidays – Part Two – Joining with our Neighbours to Stand Against Injustice

Please Note:  Winter Blooms is an educational website only and is in no way meant to replace experience with a trained EFT practitioner, counselor, or therapist.  To find an EFT Practitioner, visit the AAMET website, the EFT Universe website, the Tapping Solution website, or contact Jane at 802-533-9277 or for EFT coaching support.

How challenging it is to feel joy at this time of year when we are devastated by the murders of children, men, and women who, because of skin colour, are frightening our mostly white police forces into fatal acts of violence.  We are, at our core, an empathetic species, and so the unnecessary deaths of people who have been profiled because of race is abhorrent to us.   Many are marching.  Many are speaking out.  Many are staging die-ins.  Many are calling town meetings to attempt to bridge the gulf between law enforcement officers and citizens of colour.  We are participating in these protests because we know it is our greatest challenge at this moment in history to transform the judicial, educational, political, and social systems that cause disproportionate numbers of people of colour to be killed or incarcerated.  We also know climate change requires our unified attention, but we cannot attend to the serious matters of planetary distress for as long as we are divided on racial, religious, and nationalistic lines.  Holidays in our culture are associated with material gifts and feelings of deprivation when we don’t get what we want.  But Holidays are Holy Days.  Now, more than ever before, we are called upon to use this sacred time of year, the rebirth of Light and Hope in every culture, to find a way to heal the deep divides among Earth’s peoples.   And, as we know, all transformation begins at home.

In 1998 Parker Palmer wrote The Courage to Teach.  Now, some fifteen years later, each of us must collaborate on creating a living book:  The Courage to Learn.  This living, co-created book will be about understanding the deep emotional pain caused by systemic injustice.  Reading Bleak House in my early twenties, I laughed uproariously at the satiric Mrs. Jellyby, a practitioner of what Charles Dickens called “telescopic philanthropy.”  This character fund raised tirelessly for missions in Africa while neglecting and even abusing her own children and ignoring the social injustice in her own street.  She made an enormous impression on me as someone touched by the suffering of those far away and blind to the suffering at home.  Some time in my thirties, I realized that addressing suffering close at hand requires both courage and compassion, human traits it takes some of us years, even decades, to develop.  Like Mrs. Jellyby, we can romanticize suffering we do not see; we can even use the suffering in remote countries to minimize the suffering at home by using false comparisons.  Ending this minimization of suffering at home is the purpose of our collaborative, living book.  Whenever we cultivate courage and compassion with our neighbours, in our workplaces, and with our votes, we are contributing vital chapters to this transformational work.

How do we begin?  Joining protest activities is one way to educate ourselves on the racial and social injustice issues crippling our nation.  If we live in a community without any marches or die-ins happening we can, with our neighbours, learn to organize such events.   We can brainstorm together to create followup activities where we share food, stories, questions.  We can come together to form wisdom circles in our public libraries, the ideal setting for book clubs to read Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman,” and everything we can find by Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Richard Wright, Angela Davis, and Langston Hughes.  We can hold showings of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun to begin the conversation about racism.  And when we doubt we will ever find the courage to participate in this equality movement, we can read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to witness how one white man transcended the evil prejudices of his time. We can learn to let stories about racial injustice in America into our hearts to galvanize us to personal and public action.  We can, in our way, become imitators of that superb learner, Huckleberry Finn.

We can also review our history of injustice by watching the documentary Four Little Girls, Spike Lee’s loving and respectful window onto the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963 in Burmingham Alabama.  We can read Sarah Burns’s book, The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding, and watch its followup documentary, produced by Sarah Burns, David McMahon, and directed by Ken Burns.  We can watch Ken Burns’s series on the Civil War to deepen our understanding of the human and environmental cost of racial inequities.  These stories and countless others make denial of systemic injustice impossible; we need only summon the courage to open our minds and our hearts to learn how to create a social system that is just and nourishing to everyone.

As we create neighbourhood and community learning opportunities, and as the web democratizes the process of learning through citizen-sourced media coverage, our militarized police cannot prevail.  In my secret heart, I believe most don’t want to prevail.  In my secret heart, I believe shame and fear and guilt are prompting ordinarily loving people to dehumanize those perceived as different, those they have been taught through ignorance to objectify and demonize.  Those of my generation – of every culture – remember the lone figure standing before the tank in Tiananmen Square.  We took courage from that image as the world as we knew it began to shift and change in truly marvelous ways; now we borrow courage from all who are speaking out against injustices done to children and adults of colour everywhere.  We imagine first one police officer shedding his helmet, another, her flak jacket, another still, his fire arms, then another and another and another until many of us are standing face to face and open to learning from each other.  Individually and in groups,  we are changing.  We are learning to make peace, with ourselves, with one another, with the imperative that we must change if our species is to survive on this planet.

Even the youngest amongst us is able to watch Spke Lee’s Four Little Girls.  As artists such as Lee speak, through film, through rap, through dance, through still and moving images, our souls are touched.  Our culture is changing because a growing number of citizens want it to change.  Our culture is changing because we are moving into the story of learning together, identifying problems together, creating solutions together.  The time for partnerships and collaborations and group actions has arrived and we are ready and eager to be its participants and spokespeople.

On some level, even the most ardent football fans and shopaholics know that the pain of racial injustice will not be anesthetized by shopping, by eating, by drinking, by distracting ourselves with games, or with material things we do not need and that use up resources in highly inequitable ways.  The pain of all police-caused murders is felt, in one way or another, by all of us as we teeter on the cusp of a brand new season.  Winter, a time of reflection, of deep introspection, supports us in becoming more ardent learners, in embracing reality, and in turning our minds and hearts to our similarities and commonalities.  In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, in addressing the anti Semitic members of court demanding justice by extracting a pound of his flesh, a demand that will surely result in his death, asks, “If you prick us do we not bleed?”  The answer to this question is a resounding yes.  We are human beings together.  One person’s suffering is every person’s suffering.

It is only too true that we in the west, our humanity often obscured by our material excesses,  can fool ourselves into thinking we are superior to others for a time, but it is not a sustainable belief because what we learn as we age teaches us otherwise.  As the sacred spark that is the promise of returning Light ignites in our hearts this Winter Solstice, let us use all of our resources to make our communities safe and nourishing for everyone’s children, everyone’s father, everyone’s mother.  Just as we pulled together during WWII to help combat fascism and totalitarianism, let us pull together now to learn how to be conscious, loving, and just to all people.  Let us give ourselves the best gift of all this season.  As individuals, let us learn how to create a truly just society.  Let us make room for breathtakingly positive change.  Let us discover our courage, our wisdom, our inspiration.  Let us learn how to make a positive difference at this crucial time of cultural and seasonal transformation.

Until next week



Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner,, 802-533-9277