After the non-indictment verdict in Ferguson, a national campaign for human rights called Standing on the Side of Love sent out this tweet, “How are you taking care of your heart today?” Of all of the commentary that has come out after Ferguson, and especially after the verdict, this one simple question caused me to pause. And after weeks of protests and the non-indictment in the Eric Garner case, again this bubbles up for me, “how are you taking care of your heart today?” And now, after watching and personally participating in peaceful (and sometimes non-peaceful) marches, protests, die-ins and dialogues…this has become my mantra: “How are you taking care of your heart?”
Because the fact of the matter is, none of these incidents is isolated – none of them is a one-time occurrence. They are part of an intertwined, interwoven system of discrimination and injustice – a system so ingrained in who we all are, that we have trouble even recognizing that it exists, much less telling others about it and having hope of ever untangling it. And if you are in a position of being someone who was brought up understanding the discrimination by living it every day, or if you have been working as long as you can remember to transform the system and are confronted with yet another example of the immensity of the work to still to be done, or wherever you are coming from in your life experience – these recent experiences are painful. And unnerving. And make us angry. So, how are you taking care of your heart?
Board members, trustees, and staff at the National Peace Academy have taken a range of personal responses – writing, marching, educating, organizing. And as an institution, we are reflecting on the events, reading the terrific, insightful commentary that has emerged, and contemplating the way we, as an educational peacebuilding institution, can best serve.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, NPA will continue to provide resources and tools (from partners and from YOU) illuminating the possibilities for exploring and acting on this issue through a peacebuilding lens and for creating the transformation that we have all been working towards. These resources include holistic, long-term tools for transformation like restorative justice, trauma healing, and truth commissions – tools that we have seen create lasting change in communities around the world — and that can be set in place NOW to begin changing the systems that exist in our own country.
In the meantime, we encourage you to pay attention to your heart. To whatever feelings are bubbling up inside of you since these events began unfolding and likely since before then. And to take care of yourself. While we protest and work together to transform the system, let’s pay attention to how we will continue this work for the long-haul, for it is an on-going process. Let’s consider how we interact with everyone we are dealing with, whether on the street, in a classroom, or in a contentious dialogue. Let’s listen to the hearts of everyone involved so that we create lasting change. And let’s protect our own hearts so that we can continue this work.
How are you taking care of your heart today?
Kristin Famula, President