“You know you’re recovering when you wake up and no longer want what hurts you.”
– Xeni Jardin
I’m not sure exactly what journalist and cancer survivor Jardin was speaking to with these words, but they apply to so many things.
It’s been 90 days since the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson Missouri and the young activists are still in the streets every day.
I read their words daily, too. Something in them has awakened. Alexis, Deray, Neta, Ashley, the Lost Voices… they all realize that the systems that killed Mike Brown and so many others are not going away and will continue to kill them if they don’t stand up. People wonder why they are still out there. Why are they still fighting? Why won’t they just go home and stop talking about it? Why won’t they leave us in peace?
There is no peace. They no longer want what hurts them.
How about you?
How about us?
Xeni’s statement applies on very personal levels:
What is hurting you in your life that parts of you are still used to, comforted by, or inured to? Are you willing to wake up?
Xeni’s statement applies on social levels and globally:
What is hurting us all, collectively, that we aren’t quite willing to change our lives enough to counter? Even those of us who’ve awakened to the harm itself, in how many ways are we refusing to risk the current discomfort that will cause the larger hurt to stop?
How many of us are like the young activists of Ferguson? They are ready to die at this point rather than go back to sleep. That is a pretty serious awakening.
Perhaps our stakes don’t feel that high. That’s OK.
We begin where we are.
But even lower stakes doesn’t mean we can’t wake up and make some changes to refuse to feed the very things that hurt us. And that cause hurt to each other.
And some of the truly low stakes stuff? Not the things that really hurt our bodies, or emotions, or the relationships that matter to us. I’m talking about some of our petty infighting, or the irritation at getting cut off in line. Can we let it go? Can we stop actively making one another’s lives – and our own – more difficult over things that barely matter?
Find what matters to you. Look at what is hurting your life. Look at what is hurting your community.
As I’ve written before, confronting empire requires all of our efforts. And personal healing requires every part of our soul.
Find one way to make a change.
Start inside yourself. Let yourself wake up, even if that feels like it hurts, too. It just may. But that sort of hurt is worth the healing that will come.
I write this for us all, myself included. Sometimes true healing causes a little pain, and a lot of discomfort. It doesn’t matter whether it is properly setting a broken bone, leaving an abusive relationship, refusing to use so many natural resources, or ceasing to support racist systems that uphold a sense of continuity and privilege. The pain and discomfort are necessary for the healing to occur. We can’t just whitewash the pain away.
Waking up is hard. Waking up is worth it. Waking up leads to greater health and liberation.
I will support you to the best of my abilities. I hope you will do the same for me, and for everyone around you, trying to get free.
Healing is possible. Reconciliation is possible. Revolution is possible. Building something new and beautiful with our lives is possible. But first we have to wake up to the truth of what is actually happening. Then we must awaken our desire for something new.
This is all worth the risk. We don’t know what will happen until we try.
Personal healing and collective healing all stem from risking waking up. If we don’t risk waking up, we are risking so much more.
I leave you with the words of Ferguson activist Alexis Templeton, from Millennial Activists United which are one prescription for wakefullness: