I've always had a deep aversion to history and politics. I don't know exactly why. It seems to alternate between boredom (flashbacks to 5th grade memorizing facts and dates about this or the other war) and a sickening depression at humanity (how could humans continue to do these things to each other again and again??). I've tried so many ways of tricking myself to be interested in history: music, religion, other cultures, guilt. Occasionally this will spark an interest that lasts for a while, but then after another half-ass, failed attempt at reading Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" it flickers out. Mostly, the study of humans overwhelms me.
And so, I've spent a good portion of my life trying to avoid it. I don't read the news. I don't watch history documentaries. The only constructive thing I know to do with humanity is write songs and make art, but I make these creations based on the people and stories I see around me. That is the only way I've found to transform the crazy into something beautiful.
But I'm realizing that my choice to be silent about social justice, to turn a blind eye and ignore, is only a choice for me because of my privilege. There comes a time when we have to wake up.
Now, in this tumultuous moment of deep wounds surfacing, I'm starting to wake up.
I want to learn to do better.
I want to learn how to heal all of it, the ancient wounds in myself that have left the voice that says "you're not enough, you don't deserve to be heard," the ancient wounds of racial discrimination and hatred that surround me in this country and the world. I want to do my part, even though I'm not totally sure what that is.
Is making this collaborative record with Cubans my part? Maybe. Is getting more informed and writing more blog posts my part? Maybe. But also, learning how to speak up for myself, follow my own love inside my heart and inspire others to create from that magical place inside them, that too is my part, right? It's confusing. And important. I can feel a deep calling here, a voice urging me toward action and I get to choose what to do with that. I know it will be hard and uncomfortable but I really don't think I can go any other way.
Rage is not something I feel readily. I've certainly had moments where a burning pit in my stomach has erupted inside of me, but I hardly ever show it to anyone else. I've seen the damage it causes to others. And I always try to have compassion for whatever the other person is going through, sometimes to a fault. I know that this is partly why a lot of activist movement makes me uncomfortable. I don't share in those boiling, angry emotions and they make me want to slink away. Maybe I just haven't connected with that righteous rage in myself yet. But I have to be honest about who I am. That is part of my journey.
However, I don't have a problem with being uncomfortable either. This is where we grow.
I read this excellent article today:
The author said that for white women it is our responsibility to speak up on whatever platform we have, however small. Speaking up is hard for me. It has been engrained out of me by society. I'm afraid of being criticized. I'm afraid of doing the wrong thing. I'm afraid of not being smart enough.
But I no longer want to live my life dictated by fear. I want to let love win. So I'm standing up on this little platform of mine and saying this:
The social injustices and discrimination and prejudice that has been going on in this country and around the world for centuries are wrong. I vow to use my privilege and platform to speak up for those who's voices have been silenced. I don't know how to do this. I will probably mess up sometimes and people will criticize me no matter what. This will be hard, but I'm ready. I will continue refining and always, always, always, checking in with my intentions and values. I will keep digging deeper towards my core that is overflowing with love. I know this will guide me. I believe in creating a better world for all, based on equality and love and am ready to do my part, whatever that may be, while still staying true to my own heart.
There. I said it.