The other day, after taking my son to school, I had the feeling like I needed to go for a run. I’m not really a “runner” in that I hardly ever do it, but every once in a while, I wake up with this feeling like I need to run. I’ve done a few 5K’s and always without any kind of prep. Yes, I am blessed that I can do that, and I am completely in LOVE with my body for what it allows me to do! Do you ever stop to think about how blessed you really are? Do you ever peel back the layers of your life and compare your life to the life of others and just really sink into your grateful heart? I felt so grateful as I ran for so many reasons that I found myself dancing with my arms and singing as I went.
I had the thought that I wanted to run for my body’s sake, for the feeling of it. Pushing my body while I am able to get stronger and better than I was yesterday. I also felt like I needed to run for clarity. For the majority of my run (and walk because let’s be real, I walked too), I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest’s album ” We Got it From Here. Thank You 4 Your Service”. It’s an amazing album if you haven’t ever listened to it. It really touches on some major, real life issues that I have been thinking and talking about a lot lately, namely equality or lack thereof.
One of the songs “We the People..” has a chorus of:
“All you black folks you must go,
All you Mexicans you must go,
All you poor folks, you must go,
Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways.”
How do these lyrics strike you? They make me sad, because it’s the truth of the message often sent to these groups of people. Even when I was a kid, I knew that everyone deserved equal rights and treatment. I knew that the racist remarks I heard from some of my family members growing up were not OK. I knew it to my core. I often spoke out against it in fact, which made family gatherings fun, because I often heard “Don’t go saying that stuff around Jammie, she’ll get mad”, which made me feel like somehow I had been the one who had done something inappropriate. Funny how people know that if they’re the ones doing the pointing, they displace the pressure from themselves to the other person/persons, even if they, themselves, are in the wrong.
I had a big realization as I ran that I hadn’t thought about before. I see how my life has lined up to have me work with, and then be a caregiver of people from all walks of life in states all over the US, so that I am really able to connect with certainty with the concept that we are all One. The notion that we’re separate is a man-made falsehood that only brings judgment, hatred, separatism, and violence into this world. When in actuality, we’re supposed to start with loving ourselves fully, so that we can spread love in the world.
I am a white woman. Aside from the fact that I live in a very male-dominated society, I generally feel safe in my life. I have the typical fear as a woman of walking downtown in my town by myself at night (though I did NOT feel unsafe while solo in Sydney Australia in the Harbour area at all hours of the day and night). I’m not a fan of being solo in parking garages at night. With that said, I recognize my white privilege (though I also know that I have gaps in my view, because it’s the nature of the beast in a lot of ways). I know that when I have been pulled over by a cop in the past, while I was nervous for being pulled over, I have never feared that I would be shot or killed. And you can tell me that you’re white and you have been fearful for your life in those situations, but the reality is that the fear that you have had does not touch the level of fear held by a black person in this country. They have to think about their actions even in situations where they are being taunted or even physically assaulted, because they know that should anything happen to the other person, they will likely be the ones to take the biggest fall for it. They worry about getting pulled over for routine stops, because so many have lost their lives that way. I cannot imagine the worry that they experience when they send their teenagers out into the world, not knowing if someone will mistake something they do with an act of disrespect or violence that then gets them killed.
We live in a time when our government thinks that it’s OK to separate children from their families in the name of securing our borders and protecting our jobs. I call bullshit. How many white people are losing jobs in the agricultural fields to illegal Mexican immigrants in this country? These hard-working people work for wages much less than most of us would even consider given the extreme heat and harsh conditions that they are subjected to. This country was founded on the premise that it was a place where people from all walks of life could come for refuge, or to build a better life for themselves. But now, we find ourselves in times where money and greed are placed as higher priorities than love and compassion for our fellow human beings. We block the immigration of refugees. We have stopped being a safe haven.
The white people moved into North America and claimed it as their own even though there were Native Americans already living here. So they killed off a bunch of Native Americans and sent the rest packing to areas they themselves didn’t see value in. (Fast forward to today when those lands have oil on them and the white people now want those areas too! When will it stop?). Then, they brought people over from Africa to be their slaves to do their work for them. Now, I am baffled when white people are pissed off that black people live here! We dragged them away from their lives in Africa, so yes, they live here now. (Does anyone else have these thoughts?). As white people, I don’t think we are on the side that can be upset with it. Since then, the richest white men work to hoard the land and their material wealth, while keeping the rest of us feeling small and in line, so that they can keep it that way. People have reacted strongly to my Facebook posts on the topic of my opposition to black people being pulled over and shot during routine traffic stops, and they like to say that the person “brought it on themselves”. They like to use weak excuses that point to a large majority of black people who choose to “do bad things”. The reality is that none of that is true. What is true is that wives of police officers seem to have a hard time accepting that there is a such thing as corrupt police, which doesn’t necessarily mean that their husband falls into such a category. What is true is that the underlying racism in this country lends itself to the quantity of black people being killed and jailed. I think we need to get smart about who we side with though. I certainly don’t side with the white men who have led the majority of terrorist attacks in this country just because I am white. And I certainly would not choose to accept sweeping negative beliefs about Muslims if I belonged to a church that spoke of such things. No matter what we have been taught, our race and religion are HUMAN. Colors, shapes, sizes, beliefs, and preferences are a ploy to stretch and grow our hearts to love more, and to love those who do not look, believe, or behave the same as we do. If we stop at our shallow impressions based on such things, we miss the opportunity to connect and make a new friend.
The way this society is run, you would think that we live in a Universe of lack, but in fact, we live in a very abundant Universe. We have been brainwashed into thinking that scarcity ranks supreme, when in fact, we have enough of everything for everyone, but we choose to do things like throw perfectly good food away rather than give it to people who need it. We seek to grab more of the proverbial pie for ourselves, and hold beliefs like each man for himself when it comes to giving some of our abundance away. The key to life is creating an abundance in our own life in the form of love, so that we realize that we are always being taken care of, and always have enough to share with others.
Recently, I read an article about a 9-year old boy who killed himself after he was bullied by kids at school after telling other students that he was gay. As a Mom to a 9-year old boy, my heart broke when I heard that news. We’ve created an environment for ourselves and our children where we generally don’t feel like we can be our authentic, vulnerable, expressive selves for fear of judgment, ridicule, abuse, or violence from others. How sad is that?! I don’t care what your beliefs are about the LGBT+ community, as a human, do you not see the horrible repercussions of treating people so poorly for being different from you? Our beliefs about this issue are trickling down to our kids, who would otherwise hold only compassion for other kids. It’s leading to bullying and harassment that is ultimately killing our kids. Is your belief about a group of people worth the death of a child?
Sure, there are things that have improved in this country over time, but the reality is that there is still so much racism, sexism, and bigotry in this country. Those of us who are white could have slipped into a period of time where we believed that equality across the board was a thing, but I think if anything, with the election of Trump and the darkness that has come to the surface following, we can be sure that a lot of these issues had been merely swept under the rug just waiting for the right time to emerge. I truly believe in the adage that to be healed, we have to see the dark side of things. We have to recognize when people aren’t being treated fairly in order to make the needed changes. The dark has to be brought to light for the healing to happen. It’s the only way. It works like that in individuals as well as the collective. I cannot heal a destructive thought pattern that I hold if I do not recognize it as destructive.
I know that life can make us hard. Life can make us cold. We are constantly fed a campaign of fear in all formats. So, we often live our lives afraid. We build protective walls around our hearts and our houses in an attempt to protect ourselves and our families. We try to sort people into distinctive categories acting as though gray areas for every category do not exist, and then we further assign labels of “good” or “bad” to them. We then set limits around the love that we can offer to these groups. At one point, I realized that the walls I had built up around me for protection from getting hurt were acting as a cage that prevented me from having the deep connections with others that my soul craves.
What I have come to know is that we are all the same. We are all souls here having a human experience. Many of us grow up with wounds from our childhood. Perhaps we were abused, neglected, or abandoned and we never fully processed it, and so we hold onto those feelings as adults. We seek to fill our void with people and things rather than doing the often difficult (but oh so worth it) inner work to move on from our deeply etched feelings of not being enough, of not being worthy, and of not being lovable. We project how we feel about ourselves onto other people. The parts of ourselves that we have not healed get reflected back to us in other people, and we place blame on others for how badly we feel. So people act out. They withhold love from themselves, and so they withhold love from others. One that does not fully love themself unconditionally is not able to love another unconditionally. We are all only capable of giving the amount of love that we carry for ourselves. This is why self-love is the absolute best thing that we can all offer to each other and this planet! It starts with each of us. If we miss that step, and build relationships anyway…or build cities anyway…or build governments anyway…what we find is that eventually, they crumble from the stress of having too weak a foundation to support them. People have been trained to believe a certain way about various groups because of what their religion and government has told them vs approaching everyone as just as important as themselves. But, if you think about it, in a society where people are made to feel small, afraid, and not whole in and of themselves, it is no real surprise that people view others in the same light. If you think that the lyrics above are an exaggeration, I ask you to thoroughly examine the privilege that you are experiencing by not being part of one of these groups. Just because you, yourself, does not experience discrimination, it does not mean that it’s not a huge problem in this country. If you find yourself feeling defensive as you read this post, I ask you to question where that feeling is coming from vs simply reacting to the trigger. As humans, we tend to bury our darkest truths and emotions deep, so that it can take a while to dig it all up and expose it to the light.
It has been a process for me to get to a place where I fully love myself. I had very low self-esteem for much of my life. Once I did start making positive strides in how I viewed myself, I found myself still missing the mark a lot of the time. I would say that I loved myself, but I wasn’t actually showing myself love. And as with everything else, actions always speak louder than words. If you merely say in passing that you love yourself, or you love the qualities about you that you or society has deemed “lovable”, and you’re putting everyone else’s needs above your own, you are missing the mark. I was missing the mark. I was a people pleaser who lacked self-esteem. Unconsciously, I did for others and gave my love so that I could in turn receive the love that I felt was lacking (ultimately it was lacking from myself). Things only began to change once I realized what actual self-love looks like.
Self-love looks like putting yourself first for a change (yes, even above your children). It looks like doing things that bring YOU joy regularly, and not just going along with what others are wanting to do. Self-love looks like recognizing when you need solo time to recharge and scheduling a time to make it happen. It looks like making time for a bath if you enjoy it more than a quick shower. Self-love looks like taking care of your body in whatever way feels good to you. It looks like sleeping when you’re tired. Self-love looks like saying no if you really don’t want to do something even though it feels like everyone else wants you to say yes. We all have different things that make us feel loved up. Find those things, and stop waiting for someone else to do them for you. You will feel better when you take back your power and start creating your own joy, your own happiness, and your own peace and stop expecting it from some external situation or person. As you grow in this way and begin to really love yourself, what you’re going to find is that it will become impossible for you to not accept other people as they are, and to be against anyone. In fully loving yourself, you see that whatever you are doing to another, you are actually doing to yourself, because you’re better able to recognize that we all have these struggles to go through and overcome, and that we are all the same. Having gone through all that I have been through, I find it so easy to view another person at more of the soul level. Look for the beauty of your own heart, and then look for the beauty of another’s heart, and you will find it there, under the fraction of that person’s story that you have come to believe.
With empathy, I can see that the Mom on meth who just had a baby is hurting so badly because she does not get to take her baby home with her from the hospital. I don’t have to know her entire life story to have compassion for her. I can imagine that her soul has lessons that it wanted to learn via addiction in this life, but I can also connect with her as a Mom myself. I’ve spoken of this before on this blog, because to me, it was a very powerful thing when I stopped my judging mind, and turned on my loving heart when taking care of these Moms. I have no idea what led them to using meth, but I do know that it’s one of the most addictive drugs available. For all I know, she was peer pressured into doing it one time, and that set her up for many years of addiction. Why do we even need the back story though in order to be compassionate human beings? In taking care of so many people over the years, I can tell you that we all have the same underlying issues causing our lack of self-love, which then causes our critical judgment of ourselves and others. The lack of self-love leads to self-destructive behaviors. For some, this may mean hatred towards self and others, it may mean drug addiction, or it may mean putting ourselves last to the point of dis-ease. When you heal those aspects of yourself, you really do start to have love in your heart for everyone. I now have love in my heart for people I never thought possible, which has added a whole new level of love and peace to my life. We cannot love ourselves and hate others, and we cannot hate others and truly love ourselves. If we have hate in our hearts for someone, we have a disconnect in ourselves that needs healed.
Please give yourself permission today to think a different thought and make a different choice than you did yesterday. We are human, we are allowed to change our minds. We should be allowed to think for ourselves and choose love and compassion over hatred and fear, even when it’s our minister telling us who we should or should not love. As a child, I knew right from wrong. I inherently knew that all people should be treated equally and fairly. I knew that with such conviction, because it is true. Love is the only answer to every problem in our lives, and in the collective. If we do not learn to fully love ourselves, then everything we do in the name of “good” is always going to have holes in it at the core. When we give and give from an empty cup that we have not taken the time to fill for ourselves, we end up with illness/dis-ease. It is only when place priority on filling our own cup, does it then begin to overflow with joy, abundance, and love. I am living from that place right now. My cup is overflowing in ways I never thought possible, and my sincerely grateful heart wishes for nothing more than to use all of the excess to help make this world a better place.
If this is resonating with you at the core, but you feel overwhelmed with where to start, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is one of my passions to help fill this world with true, unconditional love, and that starts with each of us as individuals.
Thank you so much for reading! If you like this post, please like and share it! Much love!
Watch the video for A Tribe Called Quest’s song “We The People” HERE