WHAT IS BENEATH THE WILLFULNESS IN OUR WORLD?

My last article – What Is Happening with Healthcare in America?1 – revealed the undercurrent of what is really going on with healthcare in America:  Willfulness. Attempting to do or doing something, the consequences be damned.  I explained about willfulness and its roots and its occurring beneath many guises.

Now we need to go deeper. To the deeper current beneath the willfulness we’re experiencing in our country and in our world. The current of dehumanization. Layers and layers of dehumanization that have not really been dealt with … because we blame others for dehumanization and try to punish them, while neglecting to find the layers of dehumanization within ourselves, and while refusing to focus on the healing of dehumanization – both within ourselves and others.

Come explore with me …

Decades ago, in the first book I read as part of my training to become a psychotherapist, the author spoke about the fascist within us, within every one of us.  I had never heard anyone acknowledge this before. I was so glad to know that somebody else knew this truth and was teaching this truth to everyone who read his book.

The “Little Fascist” Dehumanizes

Eric Berne, in his book, What Do You Say After You Say Hello?2 wrote about the “little fascist” in all of us. The part of us that is “a little torturer who probes for and enjoys the weakness of his victims.” The part of us that is vulnerable to those who call it into action – like a Hitler, an Osama bin Laden, a Putin, or even a president of the US, or many of the current leaders in our societies today. Some of us are so vulnerable to being called out into action, that we will respond in kind. Then there is not just a leader dehumanizing, but also many of the lower level leaders and many of the citizens. And some of us are vulnerable to the calling out in a different way. We hide our “little fascist,” our dehumanizer, from others and often even from ourselves. This also feeds the dehumanization – actually just as much as the acting out version –  because the “little fascist” unclaimed, unacknowledged, unhealed, colludes in secret with the “little fascist” being acted out.

There is a lot of goodness in people. But there is destructiveness, too. And if we try to claim our goodness but hide our destructiveness, we leave a clear pathway for our destructiveness to play itself out in the world … directly by our own hands or seemingly indirectly through the hands of others.  Both are happening in our world today. And both are happening in the US today.

Dehumanization Under Sanctuary of the Law

In her book, How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow?,3 Liza Lugo writes:

“What we are now witnessing in the 21st century is the fracture
or complete breakdown of families, societies, and governments
as a result of centuries of dehumanization that have taken a toll.
More natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, etc.)
merely uncover the reality
of the national disasters we have created
by granting sanctuary to dehumanization via the law.”

Ms. Lugo understands and speaks what I am saying here … that the dehumanization we are seeing now is longstanding. It is not just occurring for the first time now. The reality of dehumanization is being uncovered from a long-time existence under the protection of normalizing cultures, leaders and citizens in denial, and under the “sanctuary,” as she puts it, of the law.

It’s one thing to have a “little fascist” within yourself. It’s one thing to have a “little fascist” within acting out in our world. It is yet another step deeper to have that dehumanizing part of ourselves exist and acting out under “sanctuary” of the law. This, of course, has occurred limitless times in the life of our world. To name a few …

Examples of Dehumanization Under Sanctuary of the Law

Racism and slavery all over our world, including in two supposedly civilized countries, Great Britain and the United States, where it has definitely existed under the sanctuary of law. And where the after-effects of that sanctuary include the repeated transmission of dehumanization from generation to generation, whether the law remains as sanctuary or not.

According to Berne,4 the prejudice against darker people is one of the ‘genocidal’ “aspects of human nature that have remained unchanged during the past five thousand years regardless of any genetic evolution which has taken place during this period; they also remain immune to environmental and social influences.”

Berne is acknowledging that we cannot change the aspects within us that dehumanize people … from the outside. If you read him closely and take in what he is saying, you realize: We cannot “teach” the end of dehumanization. We cannot legislate the end of it either. And we cannot pray away dehumanization. It is clear, as you read, that the changes need to come from ending the transmission of dehumanization from generation to generation in action, thought, and feeling through inner healing, from the inside out.

Another example of dehumanization under the sanctuary of the law: Once Adolph Hitler was elected in Germany, he had free reign to dehumanize people in a holocaust he created, under cover of the laws he put into place, with the aid of those he gave license to act out their “little fascists,” and with the collusion of those who denied their own “little fascists.” It was horrifying. It was agonizing for those who experienced it and for those who witnessed it from nearby and from afar.

And yet another example still – completely blatant in the US today:  In contrast to the immediate help sent to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, and to Florida after Hurricane Irma, witness the lack of immediate help after Hurricane Maria had devastated Puerto Rico. Mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, has pleaded for help. She has told us they are dying. She has told the government “You are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.” She has reminded us Puerto Ricans are Americans. She has appealed to our humanity. And from our President, she has received dehumanizing responses:

*”such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in
Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

*”they want everything to be done for them when it should be a
community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic
job.”5

A final example for today: The laws in the United States related to child abuse have loopholes in them, loopholes supposedly included to provide freedom to parents. Freedom to what? Use force against a minor child in their care, if:

*it is reasonable?
*it is reasonably related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor, including the prevention or punishment of the minor’s misconduct?
* it neither causes not creates a substantial risk of causing, physical harm (beyond fleeting pain or minor, transient marks,) gross degradation, or severe mental distress?6

This is dehumanization of children under the law.
Force against a minor child is not reasonable!
Force against a minor child does not  reasonably relate to safeguarding or promoting their welfare!
Force against a minor child causes physical harm!
Even force that causes fleeting pain.
Even force that leaves transient marks.
Any force against a minor child causes gross degradation!
And severe mental distress!

I work with people who experienced some or all of these as children.  The impact on the child is severe, moreso if the adults in his or her life believe it is not.

Rulings like these mean that as of 2017, the US is not on the list of countries that have completely prohibited corporal punishment of children.7 Quite the contrary, according to the same document, “Corporal punishment of children by parents or other legal guardians is legal in the United States and social acceptance is generally high, through allowances made for ‘moderate physical discipline.’”8

The US is supposedly one of the most civilized countries in the world, according to Americans, the most. Yet look at us! This is dehumanization of children under the sanctuary of law! This is the “little fascist” in secret if you are in denial, yet right out in the open if you see and acknowledge the truth. This is the “little fascist” in leaders – governmental, business, and spiritual – in parents, and in everyday citizens.

The Roots of Dehumanization
and It’s Transmission to the Next Generation

And this is a perfect place to show the generation-to-generation transmission of dehumanization.  If you experienced the “little fascist” in your parent(s) under some form of the guise of “for your own good,” then they dehumanized you. For a young child, dehumanization is even more unbearable than for an adult. A child doesn’t even yet know she exists. A child doesn’t even yet know he’s a person.

A child doesn’t even yet know she has dignity simply in her being. A child doesn’t even yet have words to express what is happening to him, and perhaps no one at all who will lovingly receive his expression – in words or even beneath words, in sounds, cries, movements. The child can only repress the experience and the feelings, while building defenses against it. One of those defenses inevitably will be “the little fascist” who dehumanizes … others and themselves.

He will dehumanize a younger sibling, a weaker classmate, sometimes a pet (not strict de-“humanizing,” but so close it fits). Later she may dehumanize children she babysits for, her parents, other adults like teachers. And still later, she may dehumanize her students, and he may dehumanize his employees, his spouse and his own children.

When he dehumanizes those younger than he, himself, they will respond as he did … repressing the experience, repressing the feelings, and building their own dehumanizing defense against the pain of the experience. When he dehumanizes those older than he, it is inevitable in most cases that they will be triggered by him, and respond either as they did when dehumanized as children, or by responding to him in kind … dehumanizing him in whatever form they took on as their means of expressing the “little fascist” in themselves.

In other words, the ‘little fascist” is a defense. A defense passed on and on and on through generations within families and outside families, too. In other words, if your parent(s) dehumanized you, that created the birth in you of your “little fascist” who will dehumanize others, and perhaps you, yourself.

Until you heal the early wound of dehumanization and until you heal the “little fascist” within yourself, you will continue to be part of the dehumanization that is still taking place all over our country, and all over our world. You will continue to be part of the dehumanization that is becoming more and more audible, visible, palpable all over our country, and all over our world.

Glimpses of Humanizing

There are signs of humanizing … touching ones I’ve seen in person and via media over the past few days.

Recently, on the television show, Designated Survivor, Kiefer Sutherland as President Kirkman, said to his staff:

“You have all dedicated yourselves to public service,
and you serve approximately 326 million Americans,
most of whom you’ll never meet or ever know.
It is imperative that we not become numb.
The people that we serve, they …
they have faces, families, hopes, and dreams and stories.
And they are our fellow Americans.
And by virtue of that bond alone,
they are worthy of our sacrifice our commitment and our service.”

And in the movie Nise: The Heart of Madness, in 1940’s Brazil, Dr. Nise da Silveira works in a psychiatric hospital in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. She refuses to use the electroshock treatments that have come into use for schizophrenia. Against the violence and dehumanization, she confronts the room filled with psychiatrists after a cold, heartless demonstration of the treatments:

“He just needs to be treated like a human.”

And later she confronts a psychiatrist:

“You use your patients for your sadistic experiments.
Brute force is the only advantage you have over them.”

Bravo to Tom Kirkman and the writer who created him. Brava to Dr. Nise da Silveira and what she co-created with the people she helped.

The question is … are these signs of the humanizing sides of these people, with the dehumanizing sides still buried deep and ignored, and still at play in our world? Are these signs of the humanizing of these people, after the healing within themselves? Or are these glimpses for us of the possibility of real humanizing … after the healing takes place?

How Do We Heal Dehumanization?

Again … until you go beneath the guise …
until you go beneath the part of you who looks like the two examples above …
until you heal the early wound of dehumanization …
and until you heal the “little fascist” within yourself …
you will continue to be part of the dehumanization that is still taking place all over
our country, and all over our world. You will continue to be part of the
dehumanization that is becoming more and more audible, visible, palpable
all over our country, and all over our world.

You can’t put this on other people. They are just magnets for your own dehumanization and your own dehumanizing. They are just mirrors of your own “little fascist.”  If, in truth, you do love your children … you need to heal the “little fascist” within you. If, in truth, you do love your country … you need to heal the dehumanizer that lives within you.

There is no way around this. There is no way over this.
Until we heal our own experiences of being dehumanized …
and until we heal the part in us that dehumanizes …
we will continue to be part of the escalating dehumanizing in our world.

“…Whoever is not aware of this force [the “little fascist”] in his personality has lost control of it …
He who pretends that these forces do not exist becomes their victim …
The solution is not to say, as many do, ‘It’s frightening,’ [which it is] but rather ‘What can I do about it and what can I do with it?’9

© Judith Barr, 2017

1 What Is Happening with Healthcare in America? I recommend your going back to read this article.

2 Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? pp 302 – 305 “The Little Fascist”, Copyright 1972, Andre Deutsch edition published 1974 in Great Britain; Corgi edition published 1975.

3 Liza Lugo, How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow? Racism in 21st-Century New Orleans, ABC-CLIO Praeger Publishing, March 31, 2014.

4 Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? p 305 “The Little Fascist”, Andre Deutsch edition published 1974 in Great Britain; Corgi edition published 1975.

5 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/914089003745468417 and https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/914089888596754434

6 http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/progress/country-reports/usa.html The wording I’ve used, though somewhat paraphrased, is from the link above, under the section on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 2015 ruling.

7 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home#Laws_by_country

8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home#Laws_by_country

9 Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? pp 302 – 305 “The Little Fascist”, Copyright 1972, Andre Deutsch edition published 1974 in Great Britain; Corgi edition published 1975.

The Patriarchy’s Greatest Weapon Is To Get Us To Not Feel

Healing the Patriarchy From the Inside Out – Not Just From the Outside In

In the 1980’s, I took a leap of faith into a journey unlike any I’d taken before. Having been a psychotherapist in private practice for over a decade, poetry started flowing through me … poetry related to women and the healing of our wounds. *

It began with the wounds to our menstrual time,1 a call to turn what had become known as “curse” back into the sacred time it truly was on all levels of being – continuous cycles of birth, death, and renewal, month after month after month, leading us home to our deepest core selves.

It deepened further and expanded to wounds to our sexual selves through incest and other forms of sexual abuse, blatant and subtle, personal and cultural … wounds that had disconnected us from our own experiences of birth, growth into fullness, and death (orgasm itself is known as “la petite mort,” meaning “the little death”.) Painful wounds that had disconnected us from union – with ourselves and others.

It stretched across our lives into wounds experienced in our elder years, when “menopause” had also been seen as a curse, as a time when life was over; and when women had been seen as “useless hags” instead of as the wise women we truly are.

It reached into our emotional and spiritual selves through our feelings, our sense of connection, and our own deeply feminine power.2 It brought to light the profound power of our feelings (used well), out of the shadows of the wounding – humiliating degradation of feelings as “illogical,” “irrational,” “too sensitive,” “weak,” “crybaby,” “hysterical,” and more.3 From the very beginning of this journey, it called me to call women to become our true selves, or as I came to name it, “ourselves in truth and love.” 4

Many women were helped to heal through my poetry readings, workshops, newsletters, and then audio recordings. Many were helped to discover and work to heal deep wounding and trauma through these opportunities. This work I was so deeply called to was referenced by other women responding to their own parallel call, including Lara Owen in Her Blood Is Gold, and Alexandra Pope in The Wild Genie.

Many men were also deeply touched by my work, which surprised, yet delighted me. There were times in poetry readings and workshops when men were moved to tears. It was such a blessing to see in relation to the wounding I was helping to bring out into the open.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was not only working to help women heal their own wounding and trauma, I was also being guided to help heal the patriarchy in our country – and our world.5 Actually, this was evident from the beginning, from my very first audio recording, ”The Call of My Blood Mysteries.”  In some poems it was more subtle: “A Menstrual Journey: The Old and The Dark” and “A Menstrual Journey: The New, The Light, and The Possibility.” In others it was downright obvious: “I Live in The House of My Father.”  This poem named the psychological, emotional, energetic, spiritual levels of the patriarchy we grew up under. Here’s the beginning of the poem:

I live in the house of my father.
I cannot feel.
It looks like I have a mother,
but elsewhere she lives,
not with me.
I live alone in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel. 

Feeling is safe only with a mother
t
o hold me, feel me, let me know I’m safe.
It looks like I have a mother.
Not really. I don’t.
She lives in the house of her father.
No mother has she,
so she cannot feel either,
neither herself, nor me.

So I live in the house of my father,
and I dare not feel.”

This expression of the effects of the patriarchy not only reveals its impact on women, it also reveals the consequences for men. Men who cannot feel, men who dare not feel. Men who cannot feel their own authentic feelings. Men who cannot connect with themselves deeply and vulnerably. Men who cannot connect with others undefendedly (but not defenselessly) … because they lived in the houses of their fathers, with mothers who lived in the houses of their fathers.

If I had spoken only of this aspect of the patriarchy, it would touch every other aspect that existed and exists.

Without knowing how to feel safely,
without knowing what feelings it’s in truth to act on,
without knowing what feelings are guides to follow for healing,
without know what feelings it’s in truth to only explore safely
  with someone else or ourselves,
without knowing the boundary between having feelings and
  acting them out . . .
we inevitably contribute to the patriarchy, with or without our
  awareness.

Without being able to feel, we collude with the patriarchy. Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings, we feed the patriarchy. Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely … we become part of the patriarchy.

My book and my blog6 illustrate how important our feelings are – both our conscious and unconscious feelings. Here I’m reflecting that importance in yet another way – through the lens of the patriarchy.

Some all along have been focusing on ending the patriarchy from the outside in – efforts and steps that needed and still need to be part of the response to the patriarchy, just not the only response.  Those efforts brought to the foreground the truth that men were not the only participants in the patriarchy. Women also acted in behalf of the patriarchy in many ways, both passive and active. Among limitless examples are these: Not only men, but also women who were misogynists, who hated women, including themselves. Women who handed their daughters over to their husbands – consciously or not. Women who supported male sexual abuse and harassment – like the women who supported Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill. Women like the Chief Elder played by Meryl Streep in the recent movie, The Giver, based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry. Women, like the wives and female “enforcers” in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, The Handmaid’s Tale, revived in Hulu’s video series last year.

Others, including me, were focusing on healing the patriarchy from the inside out. Healing the patriarchy as it exists within each one of us, male and female. Healing the vicious cycle of the patriarchy within that has been wounded by the patriarchy and that, as a consequence, wounds from the patriarchy. Amongst us was Sue Monk Kidd, who followed and shared her journey from “daughter of the patriarchy” to “dissident daughter” to her own “feminine soul.” 7

As time wore on and our work went deeper and broader, we realized that there would, at some point, be a backlash from the patriarchy to our healing work. That backlash has been coming for a long time. And now it has come with a vengeance. It is right here in our country and world today, trying to impose its power and force upon us all, acting out in destructive ways – destructive to all of us, even those who are most obviously active in enforcing its distorted power.

This doesn’t mean we were unsuccessful at our healing steps. It means we were so successful that the patriarchy in all its forms, in all its embodiment was threatened and instead of surrendering to a healthier way within and without, it prepared to resist.

We will not give up in the face of the patriarchy’s vengeance and fear. We will once again surrender – in the best sense of the word – to our call to heal the patriarchy… not just from the outside, but from the inside out.

Not just in others, but from within our very selves.

Here are vital clues to help in our healing …
Patriarchy is not just about men. Their part in the patriarchy may be the most visible, audible, and palpable. But …  the patriarchy is about men and women, and even children. It’s about all of us.

Patriarchy is not about politics. Politics is one of the venues through which the patriarchy has its most visible, most undeniable impact.

Patriarchy is personal. It is communal. It is global.
Patriarchy is about human nature in the need of growth, evolution, and healing.
The patriarchy’s greatest weapon is to get us to not feel safely –
to not heal and go through our own renewal.

Without being able to feel and feel safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel and know what to do with our feelings safely, we all lose.
Without being able to feel safely, connect with ourselves and each other deeply and safely, we all lose …
individually and communally.

© Judith Barr, 2017

*The original recordings of this poetry have been transformed into mp3’s for current day audiences.
1 “The Call of My Blood Mysteries,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/spoken-word-on-behalf-of-the-feminine/
2 “Weeding Through Distortion to The Truth,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/weeding-through-distortion-to-the-truth/
3 “Feeling: A Form of Prayer,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/feeling-a-form-of-prayer/
4 “Woman, Come to Your Self,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/woman-come-to-yourself/
5 “Healing The Feminine Betrayal of The Feminine,” mp3 by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/audio-tapes/healing-the-feminine-betrayal-of-the-feminine/
6 Power Abused, Power Healed, by Judith Barr
http://judithbarr.com/power-abused-power-healed/
“PoliPsych,”  http://judithbarr.com/blog/
7 Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd, HarperOne, 1996.

 

 

WE’RE ALL HUMAN

Sitting in the waiting room before a checkup,
I witnessed everyone sitting by themselves –
looking at their mobile phones, staring into space, just looking down,
or watching other people without any contact at all.
Except one golden skinned, middle-aged woman,
who said “Good morning,” as she came in
and sat down a few seats away from me.
“Good morning,” I replied, with a smile.
A moment later I leaned toward her and said,
“That’s lovely of you to make contact with me.”
She smiled.
And a few moments later, I wanted to –
but didn’t – stand up and say to everyone in the room:

Hello, everybody …
We’re all human beings
with hearts that love
and hearts that have been hurt,
whether we let ourselves feel it or not.

We’re all human beings,
with hearts that feel
happy and scared, angry and sad, confused and hurt
and more.

We’re all human beings
with hearts that feel
hope and hopelessness,
power and powerlessness,
connected and disconnected,
companioned and isolated.

We’re all human beings
with hearts that need to matter,
with hearts that need to be their selves …
with hearts that need to not have been frightened or
threatened out of being our-selves.

We’re all human beings
with hearts that have learned, been “taught,” induced, or threatened
to not feel –
to not feel safely –
to hide our feelings,
to close ourselves off and bury our feelings …
to defend ourselves from pain.
Defend ourselves.
At all costs defend ourselves!
Keep our deepest thoughts and feelings
to ourselves, even from those closest to us.
Build a moat …
So we can’t be hurt.
Build a gate, a wall, a steel door, a trap door …
so we can’t be hurt.
Gather an army that can lash out and protect us …
so we can’t be hurt.
Keep our deepest thoughts and feelings
even from ourselves.
Numb ourselves. Deaden ourselves…
So we can’t feel the hurt.
Defend ourselves.
At all costs defend ourselves!

Where has this led us?
‘Round the world in however many years we’ve been alive …
and right back into the patriarchy.
All those years we’ve lived in the patriarchy and didn’t know it …
here we are again, with a patriarchy stronger than ever.
All those years we’ve worked so hard to move out of the patriarchy …
here we are again, seeing how deeply entrenched we still are in the patriarchy.
All those years we’ve thought we had moved out of the patriarchy …
here we are again, seeing “out in the open” the patriarchy
that was alive and well beneath our view.
All those years we’ve thought we were free from the patriarchy …
here we are again, needing to see the patriarchy alive outside us
and needing to see, hear, experience the patriarchy alive within our very selves.

The patriarchy within and without.
The patriarchy that refuses to feel real, authentic feelings.
The patriarchy that feels and acts out intense, raw, destructive feelings
from long, long ago …
giving others pseudo-permission to do the same.
The patriarchy that disconnects itself from the heart,
while acting out under the guise of goodness.
The patriarchy that refuses to feel real, authentic feelings.
The patriarchy that refuses to go through its own renewal.
The patriarchy that would rather be shot by an assassin’s bullet
than go through its own renewal …
its own death and rebirth right here in this life.

And where has this led us?
Right here into the mess we’re immersed in right now —
in the U.S. and all over the world.
And repeating it over and over again.
Making the mess worse and worse with each repetition.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on “Morning Joe”
after the terrorist attack in London:
“The city is now getting on with its business.
All our transportation systems are running.
Parliament is continuing its work.
It is business as normal.
That is the way to defy these people.
The worst way to lose the war on terror is to be terrified for a second.
We are not terrified and we will go on.”

In my heart, I could hear the little boy, Boris,
saying what he had decided as a child.
And I could hear the parents of young Boris
telling him to do the same thing he had already decided reflexively.
Defend against your feelings no matter what.
Defend against your terror no matter what.
Let your defiance defend you against what you’re really feeling.
Let your defiance be yet another defense against what you’re really feeling.
Let your defiance numb you to your terror,
making it impossible for you to feel your terror …
making it impossible for you to utilize your terror
in a healthy way …
as part of bearing your own renewal,
as part of your country’s bearing its own renewal,
as part of our world’s bearing its own renewal.

There are many social and political steps we need to take
right now in our world.
But there are steps so much more deeply needed than those
outer steps.
We need to heal the patriarchy within ourselves – men and women alike.
We need to go through our own death and rebirth
right here in our lives.
We need to safely do the inner work of renewal
that helps us go back through
the feelings we buried from our long-ago wounds …
so we cannot be cruel to another without feeling the pain ourselves.
so we cannot be cruel to ourselves without feeling the pain.
so we cannot feel the cruelty of others without feeling the pain.
so we cannot normalize, rationalize, justify anyone’s cruel actions
and the pain those cruel actions cause.
so we cannot allow ourselves or anyone else to go unaccountable for cruel actions…
so we can hold responsible those who are creating havoc in our lives –
in our families, in our churches, in our schools, in our businesses, in our government.
So we can hold ourselves and each other responsible for
going through our own renewal…
our own healing of the patriarchy within us and all around us.

We are born into this world defenseless.
We are also born into this world undefended.
We reflexively defend ourselves and, at the same time,
are taught and pushed into defending ourselves
by the others around us who are doing the same.

But did you know …
the choice is not between
being defended or defenseless?
Did you know …
we can be undefended
without being defenseless?

© Judith Barr, 2017

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

It’s so easy for us to forget our own humanity and each others’ humanity.  And it’s so easy for us, to try to “forget” our own feelings, as we have been “taught” to do – blatantly and subtly. But our feelings don’t just “disappear” if we defend against them … and our buried feelings still cry out from deep within us to be felt, explored and healed.

As you go about your day, begin first to notice the humanity in those around you. Each person you encounter has a heart … with both here-and-now feelings and ancient feelings under the surface. Many people you encounter may be defending against painful feelings in a myriad of ways … by becoming numb, for example, or by acting out in a multiplicity of ways, from the extreme of attacking to that of retreating.

Then, take a look at your own humanity. Are there feelings you have within you against which you feel you need to defend … even beneath your awareness? Is there pain within you that seems so overwhelming that you feel you need to repress or bury it … without even realizing it? Commit today to begin (or deepen) the journey to feel, explore and heal the feelings against which you’ve been defending, with the help of a caring, feeling therapist when you need the help to go deeper than you can on your own.

I welcome your sharing this article – on social media, in email or by word of mouth – with those you feel may be touched or inspired by its message. It’s my prayer that it inspires anyone who reads it to truly feel their own humanity, to feel the humanity of others, and to make the commitment to learn to feel undefendedly, knowing that we can truly be undefended and not defenseless. Imagine if all of us – including those in positions of power in our world – made that commitment!