Leading with Peace and Questioning Anger
I’m not angry today. I’m not feeling peaceful but I am not angry either. I’m sick to my stomach and my heart hurts. When I think of the killing of Michael Brown I am not thinking about the riots, the unreal decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson and I’m not thinking about institutionalized racism. At least not right now.
My thoughts are with his mama, Lesley McSpadden.
I have been holding her in my heart, wrapping her with love and comfort these past two days and every day since August 9th. I think of her often and her heartache and the trauma of losing her child, of sitting for four hours behind police tape while her son lies dead on the concrete. No justice.
She asks for peaceful protests. She yearns for peace. That peace that you feel when it’s late at night and your family is safe at home, alive and well. All is right in the world for a minute. I can’t give her that. But I can promise her I’ll do my best to hold onto and tap into the peace inside of me. I believe in peace. I believe in love. And I believe that we can change the world for better with love and peace.
Shame and anger can’t create the change I long for. Anger has burned deep and will again. It just isn’t present today. I don’t want to take action from a place of anger.
I want to lead with peace because that is where I believe positive change happens.
Living in and for peace takes an inner dialogue that isn’t always easy.
My internal feelings motivate my external reactions. If I feel good and happy I smile more, I’m friendlier and I act out those internal feelings. When I’m feeling angry and upset that is also expressed externally. I can’t be happy and feel good all of the time but I can choose how to live with my feelings and I can get strategic about using them.
Anger and rage are such strong emotions and I contemplated if any good comes out of anger. I found two reasons that anger is positive:
1. Anger ignites the fire in me that becomes passion. Anger shows me there is something to work on, that I’m not okay with. I can work with the anger, calm down and figure out how to change what isn’t working.
2. Anger connects people. If you and I are angry about the same thing we unite in solidarity. We know we are okay with each other. We bond over our shared anger.
Other than that I can’t think of any good that comes out of anger. I might be wrong though. So what do I do with all these emotions that come and go? I ask why. Why do I feel this way? I journal about it. I talk to my friends about it and I work through it so I can tap into the real reason for my anger and then move into a better emotion that will serve the higher good of all. And selfishly I’ll feel better too.
External anger is scary. I used to be so scared when my dad was angry. He might have been angry that my grades were bad because he worried I wouldn’t succeed in life and he only wanted what was best for me. But all I felt was his scary anger. I didn’t feel the why under the anger.
I’m angry and I get incredibly emotional about the current state of our country and racism. This is where Justified Anger feels right in so many ways. My anger has turned into a burning passion to do everything I can to change things. My passion has challenged me to BE different, not just DO different.
Choosing to strategically use my anger and my passion has helped me meet people where they are at. I refuse to shame white people into being where I want them to be. To see the world the way I see it. I’m in this for the long haul.
How can I use my energy and my strength? Where will my voice matter? How can I be smart about it? These are the questions I ask myself.
What questions are you asking yourself?
My white friends are asking me what they should do and are unsure of how to be in this conversation. It’s okay to be where you are at. Know who you are. I celebrate you and your process. There are hundreds of blogs offering ideas on what white people can do. There are opinions being blasted all over the internet and the energy is intense right now. If you are unsure it is okay to sit with that.
I am on the edge of my seat though. I’m hoping that you connect with something that resonates with you and you see the importance of YOU being in this to make a difference. This is not the black community’s problem. This is a problem for our entire human race.
Commit to change.
You don’t have to know what it looks like for you. Once you make that commitment to yourself you are already doing good in the world. It is doing without being committed that is empty. Promise to be different as a white person and I promise you that you’ll start doing things different.
Acknowledge yourself as a Racial Being. What does it mean to be white? Journal about your feelings, get real with your feelings. You, yourself, a piece of paper. That will be more powerful than a well scripted facebook post that you feel good about and then move on with your day.
I ask you to take it to a deeper level. I’m not saying it will always feel good. It is uncomfortable and scary to be in that vulnerable place. This is when I remind myself of Michael Brown’s parents. That is a more difficult place to be.
Question your emotions, embrace them and work with them. Don’t let them play you. Read a book, an article, a meaningful post, and then be alone with your thoughts and your feelings. I double dog dare you.