The trial and verdict of the murder of George Floyd has stirred up our collective emotions around racism and fairness. For too long, we white folks have taken the more comfortable road of avoidance, which has allowed the perpetuation of violence and discrimination against our friends of color. I understand. It’s uncomfortable facing the truth of white supremacy, and our role in it. The anti-racist books I’ve read and documentaries I’ve watched this year often leave me angry, sad, distraught, overwhelmed, at a loss, ashamed, and guilty. Avoidance is undoubtedly a more comfortable path.
But then I think, “if just reading about these injustices leaves me feeling this upset, what could it possibly be like for the victims? How do they cope with a past, a present and a foreseeable future full of discrimination?”
I also recognize that in my pursuit of a peaceful life for myself, I am becoming less tolerant of things that cause distress. White privilege gives me the option of ignoring the pain caused by racism, as I can put down the anti-racist work I’m doing any time that I feel unwilling to bear the discomfort it evokes. The victims of discrimination don’t have that luxury.
In order to face hard truths, of any variety, those of aging, loss, uncertainty, poor health, etc., we need to get better at dealing with difficult emotions. The next Applied Mindfulness will explore being with emotions that we’d rather not feel.
When you’re less vexed by challenging emotions, then you’re able to face difficult situations with greater skill and compassion. When you’re lost in struggle, compassion for yourself and others seems to be nowhere in sight. This mindful work will help in not only reducing your own pain, but set you up to be able to be an agent of helping alleviate the pain of others.
Let’s lean into this together.