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Standing in Solidarity

Today I sit here with teary eyes, asking myself to acknowledge a truth that hurts to bring presence to. I have been thinking of the word Solidarity and what it means to me. I have been thinking of what it means to Stand in Solidarity with others. I have been empathic to others, and cried at witnessing what others have gone through, and I feel somewhat good about the fact that I don’t recall ever standing against others, but that still is not the same as standing in solidarity with another and seeing their interests as your interests even if it doesn’t directly affect your current experience.

I started to think of it as ignorance but then softened to recognize it as naivety. How could I have known how painful the blisters were in their shoes had I not experienced my own blisters. I have comfortably been among the “Us” my whole life without even realizing there was an Us and a Them. I saw people as different than me or similar to me and I recognized that there were communities that fought for one thing or another, and I respected their right to fight, but never really understood why they felt like fighting. I assumed that they were comfortable like me. I have been through incredible challenges in my life, and have worked very hard for everything I have and so the suggestion that I might not be able to relate was offensive to me. I have struggled and I have suffered, but not in the same way, and I recognize the difference now. I have always been an “us” enough to feel empowered in believing that my perspective was the correct perspective. I have been an “us” enough to feel free to share my opinion and challenge other’s opinions. I have always had the agreement of the majority and the comfort of a majority to not even recognize there was a majority. I need to say that again. I was so deeply within a majority that I didn’t even recognize that it was a majority and not a whole.

It’s not as though I have been unaccepted before, we all went though high school to know the feeling of being unaccepted by our peers our part of our communities, but I have never been unacceptable before and it is horrifically different. Unacceptable by friends and family, unacceptable by community, unacceptable to myself for not doing more or saying more. It is a torment that I now recognize so many others have experienced but I never understood. Why are you fighting for that, what’s the big deal let it go and go about your life. I would watch others stand hand in hand with others fighting, and I could clearly see it wasn’t their fight and I never understood. Why are you fighting for the sake of fighting it isn’t even your cause? Why is it important to you, it doesn’t even effect you?

Like many of you I have been watching in horror and in tears, as more and more loss is being uncovered within the Native communities. I watch and try to understand how any government or community could have watched these things happening and let them happen. I struggled to understand why Native communities weren’t able to fight back and say no, and again my understanding lies between ignorance and naivety. I try hard to convince myself that the “US” at that time were horrific, cold, unloving immoral, people, not one loving sole amongst them and that was how they could have done what they did to “them”. And I feel this incredible sense of disappointment wash over me as I step into an embarrassing truth, which is to say, that had I been there at that time, I believe I would have done nothing to help. I may not have been the person that would take children from their parents, but I certainly would have looked the other way for fear of them taking mine or shaming me from the “US”. And yet I know myself to be a loving person, I do care about others, I want everyone to feel safe and feel loved and feel connected, and yet still I sit quietly, naïve no longer, but still afraid.

I have to reconcile the truth within me that knows that although I have never condemned other communities for fighting for “their rights” I certainly have never truly understood how their fight could be mine or that their interests that appeared so different from mine could be the same as mine. I know I have struggled as everyone does to see the sameness in difference.

My heart hurts as I watch the world standing at odds with itself, the most intense “Us” and “Them” I’ve ever known or witnessed, but certainly not the only “Us” and “Them” ever experienced across time and I wonder how this can change and I think again about Standing in Solidarity, I think about the importance of seeing your interests as my interests and your human rights as my human rights even if our perspectives and needs might be perceived as different.

Every change of perspective offers opportunity. Seeing differently, then allows us to choose differently, and to engage with our environment differently. It’s my belief that we are all searching for the same things: to feel safe, to feel loved and to feel connected. Our differences can mask us from seeing our sameness. I don’t always get it right, I’m not always going to be patient, understanding, or accepting, but I have the desire to make it more a part of my every day. Solidarity stands like a light house off in the distance, a beacon of light, I orient towards it to the best of my ability, knowing I may stumble, even lose my way, but always determined, to choose again, to orient again towards that light.

The spirit in me, sees the spirit in you. I wish you Love, I wish you Peace, I wish you Gentleness, I wish you Joy.

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