Ground Before We Grow
"The process of healing the brokenness, the broken-heartedness within ourselves, is the foundation for beginning to heal that in our larger society. We cannot have a healed society, we cannot have change, we cannot have justice if we do not reclaim and repair the human spirit. We simply cannot."
- angel Kyodo williams, Radical Dharma
It is essential to ground before we grow. Similar to the notion that we cannot be activated if we are identifying with our suffering, we cannot give to or do for others if we are not re-sourced. Literally restored by source and reconnected to source (universe, spirit, soul….whatever language feels right) after we’ve gotten bogged down by all of our human stuff. And even though I deeply believe this, I also feel pushback on this idea. I feel my ego pushing back on my soul. And the pushback is about privilege. This idea that things are so bad that we don’t have the luxury of addressing our personal suffering before addressing our collective suffering.
There are a few reasons that this pushback sets us up to fail.
First, if we root our co-creation of the new world in suffering, we will reap suffering in the new world. If we ground in our personal and collective healing, we will grow a new world of healing, wholeness, and integration. Our process fundamentally influences and determines our outcomes. A process that compels us to ignore the wisdom of our full intelligence (body, mind, and spirit), to override our intuition and instinct, to strive for the goal by any means necessary, will create a world much too similar to the one we currently live in.
Second, pushing past suffering for the sake of productivity strengthens our mental model of capitalism and our habits of mistrust. We live in a society and culture that is constantly telling us that our worth is connected to our capacity to produce. If we are not producing, we do not have value in this society. It’s a hard mental model to resist and to descontruct. It is insidious, and particularly toxic when it shows up in our efforts to do something different, to co-create a reimagined world in which we actually want to live. If the new world is going to be a place where all of us are honored for our inherent value, we’ve got to start practicing valuing our own inherent, unconditional worth - right here, right now.
Lastly, pushing past suffering strengthens our habits of mistrust. When we are believing that our piece of the whole is so important that we cannot put it down even for a second, we are not trusting our co-creators to pick it up, or come up with a creative solution that, for a time, does not require our piece. The whole movement does not hinge on any one of us. We are all important to the movement, but not so important that we must always put the collective before the self. I’m not talking about dropping out completely because of a vague sense of dispersed responsibility - someone else will handle this. I’m saying that we all have moments, phases, seasons, days, flare ups during which we are compelled to tend to ourselves. And during those times, the movement rolls on. It does not need our self-sacrifice, it needs us. It needs the us that is grounded in who we really are and what really matters to us, so we can sustainably align our actions with our values and grow the new world together.
Process is our devotional practice to the new world. It is our opportunity in the here and now to experience the world that we yearn for. Our processes are a collection of our practices. And the practice of releasing ourselves from martyrdom and tending to ourselves in such a way that allows our deep gladness to meet the world’s deep need is a powerful practice of reimagining.