I’m not adding much to this post that I borrowed from my friend, Phyllis. She summarizes succintly what many of us in the Ferguson area are feeling these days. Just the word “Ferguson” commands many images to mind as it’s become a constant loop of details and speculations, hatred and violence, grief and turmoil. The subject has dominated most of my Thanksgiving gatherings, brief conversations in the hallway outside of a classroom, sermons at church, in line at the grocery store. It has already divided friends and families, co-workers, teachers and students.
We are each processing the trauma in our own ways. Some will protest. Some will pray. Some will stick to narrow minded views. Some will deny the problem. The evening before Thanksgiving, while shopping for last minute grocery items, I physically stood between an irate, shouting older man and a car full of teenagers who’d been vying for the same parking space. What came out of my mouth straight from my heart was a simple series of NO’s….no, no, no, no…no more. It was my moment of standing up to Michael Brown and saying NO, stop what you’re doing and go home. It was me telling Officer Wilson NO, drive away from the boys and let it go. It was my own sick worry about my own child coming out as NO, we can’t hurt people anymore…stop now…NO, please, NO.
I pray often for the families involved in these conflicts. I send them as much love and healing energy as I can. I do what I can each day to walk through life with as much love in my heart. We are all affected as we are all connected.
Please be kind.
Please be gentle.
Please be patient.
Please be compassionate.
From Phyllis Stein, PhD., Associate Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine
Ferguson is on my mind. For those of you who do not live in Saint Louis, Ferguson is the name of part of the patchwork of communities that surround Saint Louis, literally part of a patchwork quilt, this one called North County, no real separation from one town to another even though they have separate police forces and local governments. I live in the village of Bel Nor (pop about 1500, area about 400 acres), another of the continuous towns in North County. The effect of the events Ferguson has been an abstraction for me, even though it is only 3.6 miles from here and even though I have had direct contact with people who are involved.
Yesterday the protesters shut down some local shopping malls, including the Galleria, a large indoor mall, good for walking. It had opened again for a couple of hours when a friend and I decided to go there to take a walk.
I have never felt anything like this at the Galleria. The energy of the mall was so “off” and people were both tense and exhausted. But the reason that I am sharing this was that I could feel the intense hostility and distrust coming from almost every African-American there. As we walked, I made eye contact with one young man, and saw hatred and rage coming back from his eyes. It was a shock, and I understood, viscerally, for the first time, the massive nervous system dysregulation and ongoing trauma that has been triggered by what happened and by all of the ways that these events got amplified and fed back by different people with their own agendas and their own trauma filters.
Maybe this is a long way to say that I really “got” how much it is going to take to come back to any sort of regulation for all the people who were so strongly affected and maybe how little the goals and actions of those who are involved are informed by a true desire to bring the world to a more healed place.
You can find Phyllis’s blog here.