When I was young,
I asked big questions,
Why do we have to sit in school?
Who invented going to work all day?
Why don’t adults play more?
What can I know for sure? (turns out, not a lot!)
I still ask big questions and wonder why the world has to be like it is.
I wonder how this big machine that drives people to exhaustion, fear and shame was created.
And I wonder everyday how it can change.
It’s easy to feel discouraged in a world where…
We send men out to war with other men,
Which equals trauma for everyone,
We send women back to work 2 months after birthing our future citizens,
We live in a world that emphasizes illness over health, fear over love, competition over connection, wealth over true happiness.
It does not have to be this way though.
Things are changing, quietly, slowly, but faster and faster now.
People are awakening to the fact that they are not happy.
Paring down, speaking out, feeling their bodies and what they truly want and desire,
Not what the outside tells them they “should” want.
Exponential numbers of people meditating, breathing, going on retreats, doing yoga, finding the love and compassion in themselves.
I also remember hearing the idea of “gated communities” that were starting to pop up in the USA as issues of poverty, violence and racism increased.
I thought right away… the people inside and the people outside will both suffer. It physically protects but emotionally protects no-one.
At the time I was working in a psychiatric hospital on the forensic unit where it was commonly called the “worst unit with the worst patients” who had committed the worst crimes.
That was not my experience there at all.
I found a ward of men who had suffered a lifetime of traumas before I even knew what a trauma was.
I remember walking the hallways with a First Nations man who was twice my size, called “Giant” and as we walked he cried. He cried about the community he grew up in as he grew to rely on alcohol to dampen the pain of family, ancestral and colonial trauma. He cried about the violence he had witnessed and how as a youth he had shot a man who violently abused his mother for the last time. His grief and regret was palpable and insurmountable.
I sat with a younger man in the hospital’s bowling alley as he talked about his insecurities as a child and his gang involvement from a young age and that he felt he at last belonged to a group and that belonging fulfilled such a primal human need. Albeit this was a group focussed on drug dealing and violence, that led him to murder a warring gang member.
They were humans, growing and learning how to survive and belong as young boys in a harsh world.
These conversations for me as a 16 year old student broke down so many barriers about what we think is true.
I learned so much from these men, and many more, that I could see that neither side of the gates wins. No-one wins until we all win, and if we have the resources to listen, we can learn to change the world.
The gates, the beliefs, the right-wrong paradigms keep us all small and scared. But mostly they keep us separated from the fluid, always-changing creativity that is life itself.
Everyone comes by their pain honestly, and the thoughts and judgements that we have about who others are, are simply not true.
We might judge behaviour as good or bad, but we cannot judge the human doing it.
Any belief you have that feels stuck and hard about someone, for example “they are ______” end of story, is confining, limiting and draws a conclusion from superficial interactions.
What was true for me last year or last week, might not be true today.
We are all growing, changing, evolving, making-mistaking humans.
Our society needs a whole lot of forgiveness right now. Forgiveness leads to understanding that everyone has equal right to be who they are.
It does NOT mean being a doormat, taking shit or not standing up for what you believe.
It means taking your own healing seriously enough to want to change the world. It means true listening, real listening, to your own dreams and hurts and to others.
Sometimes that is all it takes.
This does not have to be a big job, it’s the tiny interactions we have in our daily lives that make the difference.
Pain begets pain. Trauma begets trauma. Nelson Mandela chose not to get stuck in resentment, and he impacted the world. Tererai Trent chose to believe in her dreams and against every odd rose from a small Zimbabwean village to be one of the most inspiring women leaders in the world.
If you are lucky enough to be in a place to question the world, question it.
Then step forward, breath by breath, in the way you want to be in the world.
Be kind. You can never, ever know what battles other people are fighting, what mountains they have already climbed to be here.
And stay in your own lane. Act in alignment for what you want to see, and forgive yourself when it just doesn’t turn out that way.
Honour and take care of your own emotions. Uplift those around you, and you uplift yourself.
And sometimes that is just enough.
2 thoughts on “You DO Matter, and This Is Why”
My favourite quote was always;
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”’ Gandhi
“Step forward, breath by breath in the way you want to be in the world” …At this time, your words may just be my favourite new quote:)
Very thought provoking.
Thank you Madeleine.
Thanks for this lot’s to think about