21 Nov

It occurred to me recently that, with the advent of the concept of microaggressions, there are a lot more opportunities to unintentionally say or do things that result in hurt feelings, frustration, and anger. Actually there have always been those opportunities, but the rise of the shadow and the call for healing has brought more willingness to call them out.

So over the past several months, I have been thinking about and journaling about what I call “safety zones.” To me, these are gatherings of diverse humans where questions can be asked, clarity can be spoken, and confusion can be harmonized about the differences that make us unique in the cosmos; all for the purpose of listening to understand and connecting in our commonality.

Recently, Rev. David Alexander, the minister at New Thought Center for Spiritual Living, talked about creating what he calls “brave places.” This made me think about how these two concepts are just two sides of the same coin, requiring slightly different energy. Being safe in these gatherings means one gets to practice being curious, kind, open, receptive and willing to learn, trusting that everyone else has the same agenda for growth and understanding. Being brave in these gatherings means you get to practice being vulnerable, open, present, and willing to teach without knowing everyone’s agenda.

The more I thought about these two perspectives, the more it became clear to me that we need safe places and brave people, from both sides of the coin. We need places where those who are uneducated can learn how they may be microaggressing, and those who have been transgressed can help show them to be more aware of what they are saying and how it is heard.

Safe places/brave people requires us all to take responsibility for moving our society into understanding our shared humanity and releasing our judgments about each other’s stories. If we want a better world with more understanding and compassion, then we have to be willing to both learn and teach. I know this is not a popular view for those who have been discriminated against and borne the weight of microaggressions, unintentional and not. But if we want things to change, and we know that education is the key, then I think we have to be willing to be the teachers.

This is not always a popular viewpoint, but microaggressions are not just about race. They are about every “ism.” I may be white and upper middle-class, but I am also female, fat, and lesbian, and I deal with misogeny, homophobia, and fatphobic comments almost daily. I have chosen to inform and educate those who microaggress me because it is clear that most of them do not know they are transgressing! They are kind, compassionate, loving — and uninformed — victims of the imbedded judgments and prejudices from generations gone by. So I breathe and educate. Knowing it is unintentional, it feels like a safe place to be a brave person. My intention is that others will do the same for me when my ignorance stumbles out of my mouth.

As for those who discriminate intentionally, all we can do is love them and walk away, trusting that the collective increase in love and compassion will lead them to see the light. But whether that happens or not, it is imperative that we have safe places and brave people to help enlighten the willing.

In Sacred Self-Acceptance and Divine Grace,
Namaste xo


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