I remember in Peru, in 2000, speaking with a woman who was being beaten horribly by her husband. She said, “Before the (civil) war he was so different-he was a master artist. Now he creates nothing. He only destroys. The war does not end when the bombs stop dropping.” I began to think of all the people I have met in my humanitarian work, and in my life. So many people enmeshed in their suffering; so stuck in the familiarity and the safety of their patterns that they are held captive by their own terror long after the violence has finished-caught in further violence and retribution.
I find myself questioning, what will it take for all of us as a world to shift paradigms- out of violence, into a place of non-violence and compassion? I know what it takes individually to rise out of violence-out of eye for an eye. I have seen moments of that shift collectively happen person by person, as each of us embrace our suffering and our healing, and each other. I have seen how one person’s voice liberates another and so on and so on until the truth is anchored and people no longer look away. I have seen there is a sacredness anchored in the unfolding.
In the heart of suffering there is great wisdom. Sometimes in my humanness, I feel tired from traveling in this world holding child after child, woman after woman, reaching into the trauma raped and beaten into their structures, witnessing the pain pour into my hands, spill into my heart, holding the safe space so that healing can occur. When will the violence end? And yet, in my heart I know that I am tireless. I will not let violence tire me out. And it is in these times that a voice in me rises up-sung from my ancestor’s hearts, from all the women before me who have sung, “Keep going. We can no longer answer violence with more violence. We must choose love, and be willing to risk the unknown and uncertainty in order to do so. We must risk “failure”, risk vulnerability. There must come a time in our existence where we make our choices not from a place of fear, nor anger, but from a place of presence and integrity. Keep going.”
Individually and collectively.
And my heart is restored.
It is our depth that sustains us in these times, our compassion that brings us together, our voices that rise up from silence.
We may stand together or stand alone if we must and with courage speak our truth. For me, it is enough, long enough in the darkness. I will speak, and I will walk as though my heart is on fire. The paradigms that need to shift are just waiting for the opportunity to move out of the way.
The violence ends here and peace begins.