Whenever I hear or read about the traumatic experience of someone, I imagine myself in the same situation. How would I feel? What would I do? I want to understand. When it comes to the traumatizing events experienced by the people who were forced into slavery in the United States leading up to, during, and even after the Civil War, I fall short in my ability to understand because it’s too traumatic for me to imagine.
Evangelical pastor Jim Wallis referred to slavery as America’s “original sin.”
What I understand well is my own version of trauma, the trauma I’ve experienced in my own life. My trauma is nothing in comparison, but I’ve lived it, and I’ve suffered because of it, and it means a lot to me to know that my feelings about it are validated. I want others to whom I tell my story to commiserate with me. I want to do whatever I have to do to heal. I know that being heard is the most important step in the process.
I’ve been giving this confederate statue situation a lot of thought. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I was a descendant of a slave/s, I’d want the f’ing statues to come down, too. If you argue that the atrocities were a long time ago, so there is no real harm done to the descendants of those who suffered through slavery, I’d say you’re out of touch with reality. The collective *painbody lives on, evidenced by the violence and pain in the news of the day.
If it were me, I’d want the country’s people to know I exist in my pain, to feel the emotion of my pain, and to understand and agree with me that I am worthy of healing. I’d want them to hear me because I deserve to be heard. Listening is the most important thing we can do for others who struggle to overcome their trauma, present and past.
When you ignore you diminish. When you diminish you reject. When you reject you destroy. Proceed with caution.
I know there are many of you who disagree with me. I understand that there are valid arguments for the preservation of history, of course, but I ask you to please reconsider your hard-line stance. I ask you to commiserate with those who fight to be heard about this issue. It’s time to make better, more thoughtful, honorable, and kind history, history that our descendants will smile about instead of fight and cry over.
For those of you concerned, like I am, about the ripple effect of taking the statues down, a compromise will have to be made. It’s not feasible to erase history, only embrace it with understanding. By the action of removing statues, we are made better. It would be illogical to take down the White House, the United States Capitol, and Jefferson’s home, Monticello, along with other structures that were built (in whole or in part) by slaves. Removing the names from the buildings would also do more harm than good, I’m afraid. It would not create an atmosphere of resolve. It would create an atmosphere of resentfulness. Therefore, a common sense attitude of give and take is what’s needed in this situation.
Try to understand.
For them the darkness brought a familiar unease, an uncertainty weighted with a wary, lingering fear as old as the settlement of the country itself; discomfort too longstanding and constant to merit discussion but too burdensome to ever forget. – From the book “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson.
Even if taking down the statues goes against what you believe, I want to remind you that it’s your responsibility as a member of the human race to do what you can to make things good again. The taking down of statues is a small concession in the scheme of things.
Think about it this way, in the end, will you reflect with regret that you took down statues that represent a horrible time in our history, or will you delight in knowing you faced history with the attitude of compassion for others. If I know you like I think I do, my friend, it will be the latter.
We will never regret compassion.
Hugs from the Heart,
*Painbody: “It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a “painbody,” an energy entity consisting of old emotion.” Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose