How do people make it through each day without facing the truth? Because denial is more comfortable.
Sitting on my deck on this rainy Memorial Day, scrolling through social media, I see so many people honoring our fallen soldiers. But how did this day come about? How did our country begin to honor the fallen?
Well, it depends on who you ask.
I certainly did not learn this holiday's true origins in school. In fact, it turns out I did not learn a lot of things in school.
What does this have to do with wellness? Well, let's explore this a bit.
I've touched on the need to heal childhood trauma and break patterns that no longer serve you (It Works If You Work It). Being aware of the past can help you heal the future - for yourself and for the generations to come.
Our grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents... they all had lived experiences. Think back to the great depression. What hardships did your family endure during that time? Do you think there is a lasting impression on those people as a result? Of course there is! My grandparents saved things that I didn't think needed saving simply because they rationed everything as kids! That was a lasting impression and why that generation typically hoarded what we now consider junk.
Let's look at the Holocaust. Millions of people died due to hate and fear. Now imagine the trauma those families went through - being separated, beaten, starved, burned alive. Wouldn't that cause a lasting impression genetically on generations to come? Well, yes it did.
Now let's look at something farther back - enslaved people in the Americas. Families were ripped apart, beaten, sold like cattle, kept "in their place". Enslaved African people were not even considered as human beings - just a commodity to keep the economy going.
Do you think this could be traumatic for families and descendants of this happening? I'm going to answer for you - YES. We are literally seeing it being played out in our society today. There are still people who do not consider Black people to be human.
And then there are Indigenous people. We literally live on their land. Imagine the continued trauma for them as they watch big oil and corporations drain, strip, and destroy it. Traumatic.
Is this uncomfortable to look at - of course it is. But it happened. It's our history. And we need to own it. In fact, we need to HEAL it. There are lots of opinions about how that should happen, but it starts with YOU. What is YOUR role in what has happened in this country? Are you in denial about it? Do you have friends who suffer due to this history - either generationally, socially, or politically? Do you understand how you contribute to this dynamic? And before you say, "I don't contribute" - Yes, you do. In some way, you are part of the dynamic. And you need to heal your part of it. If you are white, or white-passing, here is a link to begin some difficult but necessary work.
It is interesting to watch the anger that bubbles up just from discussing history. Everyone's version of history is different, because we have all been taught something different.
If we can start at the basics and just see one another as human, that would be a good start.
Did you ever see the movie A Time to Kill? The attorney (Matthew McConaughey) humanized the defendant's (Samuel L. Jackson) daughter by making sure the jury heard all the details of her murder, then asked the jury to imagine that all of that was done to a white child. I remember the shock value of that scene and how sad it was that it even had to be said.
When we do not see one another as flesh and bone, we are focusing on the wrong thing. And that keeps up divided. And traumatized.
Our country has a relatively short but traumatic history. Life was not always as comfortable as it is today - for a lot of us, anyway. We need to honor ALL people who fought, defended, and died for us to live, speak, work, and otherwise thrive as Americans.
The origin of Memorial Day is Black history. On May 1, 1865, formerly enslaved people honored 257 Union soldiers by giving them proper burials in Charleston, SC. Ten thousand Black Americans mourned the fallen with a parade, sermons, a children's choir, and then they all sang America the Beautiful.
Now imagine being one of those people - that day - honoring the people who gave their lives to fight in a war for the soul of our country. Can you feel the hurt and pain that they may have felt that day? And then embracing a country that had treated you less than human? Would you describe that as a display of patriotism?
So What, White Girl
Yep, I'm white. Yep, I've been taught alternate history. Yep, I'm racist as a result. I am owning my part in this circle of shared experiences. I am healing the part I have played in it.
What does it matter what I have to say?
Well, I am breaking the white silence that I sit so comfortably in. I am bringing to light the need for ALL of us to look at our history; to understand the dynamics involved; to be present with your neighbors and friends and coworkers and people that don't look like you - all the human beings who make up your communities.
I spout healing and wellness. If I am not healing my trauma, my generational trauma, and the hurt and pain any of the above has caused another, then I am a hypocrite and a liar. And I, dear friends, do not strive be those things.
How can I be expected to help others if I am not doing the work within myself.* How may I hold space for others along their paths and help guide them to find a more healing space if I cannot do something as basic as know and honor history? I mean, that is what Memorial day is about ~ honoring our history.
I used to be the Queen of Denial. Not on purpose of course, but because it was comfortable. If this blog pulls ONE person out of their river in Egypt (denial), then it will be worth every second of writing it.
May you come out of any denial.
May you heal your trauma and generational trauma.
May you learn, teach, and live with love, kindness, and compassion.
Be well, Friends
*I am a work-in-progress like all people.