Contributed by Barbara Simmons, Executive Director, The Peace Center.
We are living in a dark time. We have not been here before. Other countries have lived through darker times including political violence, even genocide. Nevertheless many of us feel as if we are fighting for the survival of democracy – and we are! Righteous rage can leave us emotionally and physically drained. We hurt for our planet and for humanity.
We will suffer from burnout if we are not careful. If we are to be on the front lines we need to sustain ourselves. How do we address our own inner suffering and avoid feeling victimized?
1. Don’t react; instead respond thoughtfully with the help of other groups working on similar issues. Don’t do it alone!
2. Move beyond your fear to function from a place of love. Our cortisol levels are high due to stress, and stress comes from fear… of feeling helpless, that our leaders are not defending our democracy. We can’t address and solve the issues at hand with the same energy that created the problem.
3. Courage is needed – move through your fear and be present for what needs to be done.
4. Resilience: allow yourself to fall apart when the news is bad. Scream, yell, cry and grieve. Your emotions are necessary to your ability to be resilient. Get centered again and be the rock that is needed.
5. Keep Hope Alive! The African American community has been doing this for 400 years… don’t confuse this with optimism. As Cornell West stated ‘we are a people of hope. Hope wrestles with despair – and generates energy to be courageous – to bear witness…to see what the end is going to be.
6. Mentor young activists. Many are ready so give them the safe space to fall and get up, and be there with them.
7. Rest is crucial. When you are exhausted, step back and let the next wave of activists step forward.
8. Nurture the Light inside you & each other. We may not always see that light – and sometimes we can’t even see our own. It helps to envision it and feel it within you.
9. NO ONE is born to hate. It gets ‘put in’ and gets calcified if they see no good model of compassion and empathy.
10. Stay strong peace warriors. You are needed now more than ever. Lift one another up! Work on expanding our numbers with the unyielding power that comes from a place of love, hope and resilience.
For just one day, talk about that which disturbs no one. And bring peace to your beautiful eyes.