Check out this post by Marlena Fiol the author of Nothing Bad Between Us
I grew up knowing it was wrong to be a racist.
And I convinced myself that we were making progress, as individuals, as communities, as a nation and as a world. Despite obvious hiccups, I believed we were moving toward a more just society with liberty and freedom for all.
Unfortunately, I think I’m prone to holding illusions that suit me. Just last week, I wrote an essay about the illusion of a perfect family that I held for years, until naturally, it exploded in my face.
The illusions of perfection I’ve hidden beneath — about my family, about my society — have temporarily made me feel secure and satisfied in my own little bubble. But illusions of a perfect world in the face of today’s ugly imperfections finally cannot hold up. Eventually, I have to stop believing my own stories and notice what is really happening around me.
What I see around me today is a grieving, seething, angry, alive and more conscious world, possibly on the brink of finally acknowledging the ugly realities, on the verge of stopping the pretense, the illusions that have kept us stuck.
I want to be a part of that awakening consciousness, whether it’s regarding my family or the larger society around me. Perfection doesn’t exist. Period. And deep dissatisfaction about the imperfections feels like an energy rising within me. The great mystic Osho said, “When you are absolutely dissatisfied with things as they are, only then do you go in search, only then do you start rising higher. Only then do you make the effort to pull yourself out of the mud.”
It’s time for me to pull myself out of the mud of my illusions.
In the face of the recent ugly realities, many are rising up with righteous anger against our current institutions and our leadership that would allow such atrocities.
There’s much to be desired in our current institutional bodies of leadership. But we cannot begin there and hope for deep change. I believe the reason our society operates as it does is because collectively, each one of us collaborates with how it works.
Like me with my illusions.
If I don’t transform individually, how can I expect others to transform the collective? Police brutality directed at African Americans and other ethnic groups is horrific in its own right. But what is even more horrific, is that it brings to light the racism that lurks just underneath the surface of our entire culture.
I will end this short piece with the words of Arno Michaelis, a founding member of what became the largest racist skinhead organization in the world, a reverend of self-declared Racial Holy War, and lead singer of the race-metal band Centurion, selling over 20,000 CDs to racists round the world. Today Arno is a speaker, author of My Life After Hate, and works with Serve2Unite, an organization that engages young people of all backgrounds as peacemakers. I’m honored to have him as a guest on my podcast Becoming Who You Truly Are, scheduled to air on August 10.
Arno said “All human beings share an equal capacity to harm or to heal. And if we convince ourselves otherwise, there’s no way to reconcile from that. If we convince ourselves that “this group of people is just inherently more violent than my group, or my group of people is inherently less violent than…,” when we can convince ourselves that everyone doesn’t share an equal capacity to harm or heal, then there’s nowhere to go from there but violence.”
Mother Teresa astutely diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: We’ve just “forgotten that we belong to each other.”
We’re all in this together.
Each one of us is capable of anything.
We’re living either in love or in fear.
And I have a choice about which one to embrace.
A Mennonite Missionary’s Daughter Finds Healing in Her Brokenness
This story differs from similar accounts of childhood domination or abuse because it tells the story of the author’s seemingly paradoxical responses to the powerful forces in my life, but doesn’t leave it at that. It sheds light on the social and religious dynamics underlying these responses, giving readers insights into and understanding of her otherwise incomprehensible choices, as she found my way back into loving relationships with her parents and the Mennonite community.