We have a problem in our nation. A big one. And it’s dark and it’s ugly.
But, we aren’t talking about it.
Oh sure, we are talking about its symptoms. We are talking about the violence, the vengeance, the hate, and the anger, but we aren’t talking about the REAL problem. Why? Because violence, vengeance, hate, and anger are showy. And active. And they make us feel afraid and uncertain, so for some of us it means we get louder, for others it means we get quieter. But for all of us they leave us feeling powerless and asking the kind of questions that don’t generate a lot of answers. And then the darkness begins to threaten because those kind of questions make us feel like we are losing control and weak. But here’s the secret to all of those negative, soul-quenching emotions, they are just distractions. And until we get to the heart – the true driving force – of the matter, we can continue to expect these emotions to continue to grow.
So, what is the problem? It’s simple yet so incredibly complicated (which is exactly why it gets ignored).
The problem? It’s our hearts. They are broken, and we have not repaired them. Maybe because we know it’s a time consuming process or maybe because we don’t know how or maybe because we think we’ve buried it so far down that nothing can touch it. But this unaddressed brokenness is causing an impressive darkness in our hearts and it is spilling out on others around us.
There is a saying that “hurt people hurt people.” It’s simplistic but incredibly true. Hurt people, who have not done the healing work necessary to move beyond the hurt, are very likely to hurt others. Not necessarily in a criminal way but in an entitled way. And entitlement makes humans dangerous.
Entitlement lets me believe that I am justified to act out when someone else has hurt me. I am allowed to hurt because I have been hurt.
Entitlement lets me believe that when I act out against someone else that it’s not a big deal. I’ve been hurt worse. If they want to know what real pain is, they should try walking in my shoes.
Entitlement lets me believe that I am not really responsible for hurting someone else. I wouldn’t have hurt them if “they” hadn’t hurt me first.
Entitlement lets me believe that my hurtful actions really don’t cause harm.
If we want to get serious about healing our nation, we have to start by healing our hearts. Hearts that are bruised and broken in childhood. Hearts that are worn down by seeing parents hurt each other or by being touched inappropriately by a person of trust or by being told that we aren’t good enough for our parents or peers or because we have been abandoned. Hearts that know how to live in the dark because the light is too exposing.
If we want to get serious about healing our nation, we have to start by healing our hearts. This begins on an individual level when a person begins to take back their life by seeking help for their hurts. NOTHING takes the hurt away. But counseling, self-help books, and getting connected with others with similar stories will help the hurt to be managed. At first the light is intimidating. What if people don’t like what they see? What if I don’t like what I see? But it’s light that allows us to see clearly. It is the light that empowers us to take sure-footed steps on our path to healing, and it is that healing that gives us the push to the address the societal level. If we are really serious about wanting to stop the violence, we need to do a couple of things:
- We need to stop placing our hurts, our disappointments, our injustices over everyone else’s. When we have been hurt, we have the right to experience the emotions that come with it, but we don’t have the right to rank it over someone else. If each of us would begin considering others first, we would be the light that chases out the darkness.
- We all have a story. And each story is important. Shouting over each other gets us nowhere, but listening – listening will get us everywhere. Listening allows us to hear the pain of another. It is in these tellings, of our stories, that we are humanized. We are no longer groups of people. We are just people. Listening challenges us to view things from a broader scope. We may not move an inch from our position, but we will have gained empathy and compassion for another. Imagine the kind of light empathy shines. And then imagine a world where empathy was the ruling force.
- Validation goes a long way in healing hurts. We don’t have to agree with someone’s perceptions to validate their perceptions. Most human beings are reasonable. They just need to be heard, and when they are heard, and their experiences aren’t justified, minimized, blamed, or denied, they will be much more likely to validate and empathize with others – making them the light.
All of this starts with me (and you). So, today will you join me in taking the first step? Ask yourself if your heart could use a little healing and if so, go get it. Don’t know where to start? Contact us at email@example.com for resources. And then, once your heart begins to heal, be the light that brings changes to your world.
Valerie Craig, Co-Founder, firstname.lastname@example.org