This post is by Heather Bilotta, RSMT, who has been invited to share her insights here as a guest. For more information on Heather, see her bio at the end.
I grew up in a working class community nestled between Boston and Cape Code. Back then many kids had rat tail hairdos and kool aid mustaches. Most parents worked at places like Kmart, Tom's Auto Garage, or a school. A lot of moms stayed home. I remember times when my dad was on strike and couldn't work. We would have fried bologna for dinner. But, in the 1980's we still had hope. There was still a belief that the deteriorating situation for the middle class was a minor set back. Not a new, harsher reality that would continue to get worse.
There was still some funding for art and music, sports teams, and academic clubs at school so participation was inexpensive (or free). There was still a sense that if you were in the land of the free and home of the brave there was hope. A real potential that if you work hard enough, for long enough you could achieve your goal, get your dreams realized, make a life better. Feel and be free.
Many of us bought into the fantasy of what it meant to be an American and all the dreams attached to that. Especially if you were "lucky enough" to be white and male. Without gender or race to hold you back, the sky was the limit. Many of us held onto the naive belief that our government was different here, WE THE PEOPLE were different here. We were somehow better than other countries. Freer. Stronger. Despite the genocide to our Native American, and African American brothers and sisters, internment of our Japanese citizens, antisemitic, anti-women, anti-gay stances we still managed to deny reality and see ourselves as only good. With a future for ourselves that was only about opportunity and growth. Which is complete unreality.
I think a lot of us are seeing more clearly now than ever before that "The American Dream" has harmed us, more than helped us. It has led us down the path to being naive and caught off guard by the negativity in our country. I'm recalling the words of Malcolm X and how important they felt, and what a deep impact they had on me when I first heard them. A warning of how chickens come home to roost. What I take this to mean is that any unacknowledged darkness, ways we've hurt others and not fully taken responsibility will eventually harm you. We all need to take responsibility for the harm our forefathers and have done. We need to come to terms with the fact that we all have negativity within us that left unseen, untended to has a negative impact. We are all "the deplorables." Meaning we all have hate, rage, fear. We need to see and own this with heart and honesty rather than stay stuck in denial or scramble to regain our sense of superiority or "greatness."
We are human here, just like other humans everywhere else on the globe. There is no difference in our brains, hearts, and bodies. We operate on the same circuitry. As such we have thoughts, feelings, and energy within us that contains both light and dark energy. Energy that is intermingled and sometimes tightly bound together. We need to get to know this place within each of us so that we can stop projecting that negativity onto each other. To claim the hatred, paranoia, and fear in us so that we can regain our power and our hearts and begin to heal and trust and regain our sense of agency. To start doing right in the world and not wrong.
The good news is that despite the turmoil right now a lot of people are working hard to do just that. To become more conscious and less reactive. To share, to be kind, to grow empathy and awareness. To get to know what each other is thinking and feeling without just annihilating each other for their beliefs and thoughts. For all of the people who feel unheard, disenfranchised, rejected. I hear you. I know you feel left behind by the establishment who promised to care for you, educate you, and keep you safe. I am one of you. I feel this way too. We may have different views about how to do this but I see you. You are human. We are brothers and sisters, not enemies. Let's join together to reclaim ourselves and our beloved nation.
Heather Bilotta, RSMT is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist in private practice in Lee, MA and R&R workshop presenter and dance teacher at KripaluCenter for Yoga & Health. Visit www.heatherbe.com to learn more about Heather and current course offerings or private session work.