Jul 6, 2020

A brave, new ending

a-brave-new-ending

July 4.

U.S. Independence Day. 

I am a student of history. I taught US History for 8 years. I have always loved the Declaration of Independence, the words present something that seemed truly radical for the time. 

And I also understand the hypocrisy of this document. A document that claims all men are created equal, while women were not included in that statement. While many of the founding fathers, including those who drafted the document were slaveholders. While ALL of the founding fathers were living on land that was cleared through genocide of the native people who once lived on that land. It was stolen land. It is stolen land. 

This is the complicated truth of this nation. We MUST each reckon with that truth. Depending on your social location that reckoning will be different. This reckoning will bring with it grief, shame, trauma, guilt, pride...and so much more. 

But, I urge you to engage with this truth anyway. To sit with it. To lean into the discomfort of this truth. Yoga prepares us for this. It gives us the tools and resources to engage in difficult and uncomfortable truths. It asks us to be present to how our body responds and to build resilience so that we can continue to show up from a grounded, centered place. So that we disrupt the systems that continue to cause harm.

Because, in the words of Brene Brown,

“When we deny the story it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave, new ending.”

I believe that together we can write a brave, new ending to our collective story. One that chooses to believe in mutual care. Once that is interdependent. 

It’s moving from “I” to “we”. 

As U.S. Americans we are indoctrinated into the ideology of Individuality. I believe that this deeply stunts our spiritual growth as individuals and it has devastating consequences for us as a collective. This is being revealed in significant ways right now as we are navigating our way through the COVID pandemic. Our nation has been hit harder than all other developed nations. There is not just one reason for this. It’s not that simple. But, our belief in individual rights and the lack of leadership are certainly part of the reason. 

Individual liberties has been the argument by so many who don’t want to be bothered to put on a mask or stay home (if one has the privilege to do so). We do this so that those who can’t stay home because they are forced to go to work in what we as a culture has deemed ‘essential’ jobs may be safe from harm. And BIPOC have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. 

So, my thoughts on this today are: instead of celebrating independence let’s consider interdependence. Interdependence is mutual dependence. We need each other. Nature models this for us. A leaf cannot grow without soil, sun, water. 

For humans, interdependence requires honesty, self-awareness and discernment. It requires both empathy and vulnerability. 

Empathy is the ability to see the world as another sees it, to do so without judgment and to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s a skill we can build. 

Vulnerability, on the other hand, means exposing ourselves. As Brene Brown defines it, ‘uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” This includes exposing our shortcomings and our fears.

We can only be vulnerable when we are self-aware. We must know our limitations and our fears. Yoga helps us do this. Mutual beneficial relationships with people who see the world differently than we do can help us do this. 

Interdependence is each of us not only understanding our part, but doing our part for the growth and evolution of the collective.

Every single one of us has a role to play. Every single one of us has a responsibility to the whole. 

What is your role? What is your responsibility? How can you be a better ancestor to those that will come after you? How can you show up for those who live among you? 

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the late Senator Paul Wellstone:

 “We all do better, when we all do better.” 


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