The more we learn about what’s happening around the world, the more we experience our own heartache and pain, the more it can feel like hope is lost. Like love is gone. But there is only one constant, and it never, ever runs dry.
This world has fear, heartbreak, injustice and chaos spread across it. As of 2019:
1 in 3 women will experience sexual or physical abuse in their lifetime.
62 million girls are denied education.
Women of color earn 64 cents for every dollar earned by a white man.
200 million women are suffering through forced female genital mutilation.
Women around the world risk being raped at higher rates than getting cancer, malaria, having a car accident or experiencing war.
Only 32% of all national parliamentarians are female.
250 million girls do not have access to menstrual hygiene products (and in the US, tampons are taxed but Viagra is not).
That’s just the women. There are more shocking statistics about marginalized races, religious groups, and animals. This world has its challenges, no doubt.
The day after the 2016 US election, I found myself sitting in my garden, crying. I was absolutely devastated. I went to bed early the night before, fully expecting love to trump hate in the election. I woke up finding out it didn't. And I wound up sitting in my garden with a big lump in my throat, watching the sunrise, holding my belly with my baby angel inside. As the sky turned from purple to orange, I closed my eyes and prayed for our future.
When looking at our world right now, it is important that you know this: Misogyny has not won. Sexism has not won. Racism has not won. Hatred has not won.
What happened is: fear won.
A whole lot of people make choices out of fear—fear of not being safe; fear of not being able to care for their families; fear of the unknown. Deep down, not a single person makes a choice out of pure hatred.
People don't vote in an election because they want to harm others; they are far too self-concerned for that. People vote for what they believe is genuinely in their best interest. And in 2016 there was enough fear out there to spur an entire switch of politics and power.
Fear won. Hate did NOT. Why is this important? Three reasons:
Hate is a temporary outburst triggered by fear. Fear is the real problem, and fear can be softened.
Because at the very core of our world and our universe is one unbreakable root that connects us all as equals: it’s love. This is super important to understand. The one true constant in our universe is love and only love.
Because it's now our job to help humanity turn fear into love, to remind the world what truly matters. It's up to us.
Now is not the time to lash out at whoever you blame for an election, an ungodly act of violence, or anything that is born from fear. That only makes the fearful more deaf.
Now is not the time to complain, or panic, or escape. Now is the time to love.
It is our job to love even harder than we ever have before. To find in our hearts what we wish had been reflected in the voting booths and to reflect it out into the world. To not despair, but to believe. It looks like hate trumped love—but only for a moment. This is not the end. It's a beginning.
This moment is an integral part of the grand masterpiece that is this tapestry of life. It feels like a loss, but it's not permanent. It’s just a sharp unexpected turn on our path toward oneness.
So as we learn the statistics and stories of fear causing unthinkable pain around the world, our responsibility is also our remedy:
1. We have to center ourselves in love and move from that place.
2. We have to keep our eyes open, and listen.
I think of my daughter and the life we share on this little Caribbean island. We go to bed every night with a full belly in a warm house where clean drinking water comes right out the tap and the fridge is always full. When we want to go on vacation we don’t think about it; we just go.
We never have to worry about our safety. We don’t know what it’s like to not have a roof over our heads, or to live paycheck to paycheck worrying how to make ends meet. We live in a safe place where we don’t have to worry about violence or persecution and the color of our skin assures us we’re not likely to be subject to judgement or prejudice—or worse. When I go on the subway and forget to pay, security guards send me off with a warning. When I get pulled over driving, I worry about a potential ticket, not my life.
When I was 13 and had my first run-in with the law, the police asked me what I was doing “with those people”, pointing to my friends of color. I was too naive to understand the centuries of violence that lie beneath statements like that. I didn’t know what racism was because I’d never been subjected to it.
I will never be able to fully comprehend what it’s like to be treated unfairly and, like in so many cases in today’s world, abused and violated because of the color of my skin. I can’t know because it doesn’t happen to me.
But it happens to other people, in different shapes and forms, every day. I can turn my head the other way and avert my gaze and go back to my cushioned, privileged life, or... I can be outraged. I can look for means of reparation. I can try to learn when the opportunity is there. And most of all, I can listen. I’ve spent too many years not listening enough.
Today, I’m outraged about the parents being separated from their children at the border and about the pregnant woman abused on the subway for not finding her subway ticket fast enough.
Tomorrow, if I stop listening, I’ll forget and I won’t be outraged anymore. I have to make the conscious effort to stay engaged in the injustice that happens in this world for the simple reason that I’m privileged enough for it to not be happening to me.
We will do better. We will love harder. We will fight with a stronger purpose. For the lives of our children and our children's children, we must start now.
Centering on and moving from love, looking and listening, these skills will help you change the world.
But these skills can also be applied to your own beautiful heart and the struggle you may find yourself in right now. We have to heal ourselves before we can heal anything else.
Put your hands on your heart and take a few deep breaths. Feel that? Your heartbeat is the first clue that hope is not lost. Hope is not lost because love is still here. Love. Never. Leaves.
Onward we go. The sun is rising on a new day. So, forgive. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Acknowledge the fear that lies beneath it all and forgive.
But first... We yoga. Get on your mats and cry it out. Release. Punch something. Shake it off. Then, back to love.
Will you listen with me? Will you help transform fear to love? Share how you’re doing it in the comments below!