the Empathy List #60: Woke Up
What comes after the Derek Chauvin conviction?
Hey friend, Liz here.
This week, a Minnesota jury pronounced former police officer Derek Chauvin, the man who knelt on the neck of George Floyd, guilty of every charge brought against him.
For anyone with the slightest “woke” bone in their body, this feels like a miracle.
In fact, anytime justice occurs in the universe, that affirms my faith in real deal, hippy dippy, woo-woo, out-of-body, supernatural miracles, offered from the hand of God itself.
Which begs the question… what now?
What comes after the miracle? If anger empowered the march to justice on behalf of George Floyd and so many other victims of police actions, what emotion leads the recovery? What does “recovery” even look like?
But first, I want to sidestep those questions for a moment and focus instead on the question of pain, because it deserves extra emphasis: medicine tells us that pain looks different within every human body.
During my time as a birth doula, I watched 20 babies enter the world through the hard work—the sweat, the swearing, the blood, the strain—of their mothers. Each experience of childbirth was unique, even if there were overarching themes that directed the movements.
But I can tell you that one thing that is universal about pain: it’s a smoke signal. The pain says, something is wrong. Anger acts similarly within our bodies: it’s our warning system.
And when we pay attention, what we discover is that the emotion so often behind the anger is grief.
When my eyesight began to fail in my right eye in 2017, I felt a confusing blend of emotions, all in bold technicolor. I could hardly see myself straight anymore (in every way possible). Who was I without my vision? What did it mean? Why had this happened? And how?
The answers to these questions were important, yes, but frankly, the answers were less important than engaging the grief that accompanied the diagnosis. The loss mattered more than the facts did. Ultimately, engaging the feelings gave me the tools to metabolize the facts, if/when they ever arrived.
Which dovetails with this: physical therapists tell us that to heal pain in our bodies, we must find and exacerbate it.
They instruct us to finger the tender spots and press, deeply, for 30 long seconds. (One Mississippi, Two Mississippi…) If we want healing, we must work for it. We must stretch where our bodies feel most vulnerable. We must notice the pain as it comes in sharp; only then will we ever experience its passing. For the sake of the body’s healing, our pain must lead us.
Pain precedes healing.
In other words, pain will continue to come to the surface, even after the miracle of Chauvin’s conviction. The justice only came because of the perseverance and hard work of advocates, families, lawyers, and politicians. Yet healing is not delivered on schedule, as if by court order.
Healing only comes from within.
(BTW, I’m not saying racial injustice does not still exist; I very much believe that our advocacy is FAR FROM OVER, and last week, I featured the tragic story of Daunte Wright because it affected me deeply. However, I am encouraging us to mend the parts of ourselves that we can, in our own power and within the help of supportive communities, as I understand the limits of the justice system to heal a human heart and mind. ;-))
The pain that continues, instigated by George Floyd’s tragic death, will only pass when we press our fingers into tender spots beneath the surface of our skin, for the sake of our body’s own healing.
We must be brave in considering the pain that we still must face, in order to heal. Our healing will be empowered not by anger, which so quickly fizzles, but by grief, anxiety, and, I hope, eventually, the rest that comes from release of the wrong done to us and those we care about. (Which is another way of saying, that forgiveness is hard fought and costly.)
The question then becomes, will we lean into the pain—not for the sake of the convicted or the deceased, but for our own sakes?
Question for you: How have the worst moments of your life shaped you in the long-term?
Thanks for reading. Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant
A brief note about how this newsletter gets made…
On the other side of this email, it’s just me, Liz, a lonely author / part-time speaker over here in Aurora, Colorado, tapping away on four-year-old computer keys while my kids stomp around my house in the background. ;-)
(I also happen to own the world’s tiniest violin that sings my sad, sad song.)
Putting this newsletter together takes hours every week, and yet I do it because it’s one of my favorite parts of writing!
That said, to make it sustainable, my readership needs to grow steadily… ‘cause I’m trying to sell a book, and if you don’t know, that’s a GD miserable endeavor.
If my voice means something to you, would you forward this email to a friend? (It’s the best payment! Other than money! haha) Thaaaaanks.
[END OF AWKWARD COLD PITCH]
COVID Vaccine + Kids = Complicated
Parents and kids will be vaccinated at different times, which presents complicated decisions for families.
(P.S. Read this NYT opinion piece on what to do if you’re vaccinated and the kids aren’t.)
Yet scientists are working on it. Currently, pharmaceutical companies are running trials on COVID vaccines specifically for use in young children (under age 12), after having seen that vaccines were safe and successful at preventing COVID in 12- to 15-year-olds.
Here’s what the researchers are looking for.
Nature | Read more…
The Black Eyed Peas’ song-writing process has got to look something like this, amiright??
“We’re like, ‘Okay, it’s halftime at a Lakers game and someone’s sitting there eating a pretzel and waiting for the third quarter to start. What should be playing?’”
Read this satire of the musicians who have won a Grammy and where their inspiration comes from. (This cracked me up.)
The Onion | Read more…
One woman remembers her belated mother by what she ate (or didn’t eat):
“She was a woman of many “usuals.” Half a patty melt on rye with a side of steak fries to share at the Terrace Cafe after a day of shopping. An unsweetened iced tea with half a packet of Splenda, which she would insist she’d never use on anything else. Minestrone she’d order “steamy hot,” not “steaming hot,” with extra broth from the Olive Garden. On special occasions, half a dozen oysters on the half shell with champagne mignonette and “steamy hot” French onion soup from Jake’s in Portland.
She was maybe the only person in the world who’d request “steamy hot” fries from a McDonald’s drive-through in earnest. Jjamppong, spicy seafood noodle soup with extra vegetables from Cafe Seoul, which she always called Seoul Cafe, transposing the syntax of her native tongue.
She loved roasted chestnuts in the winter though they gave her horrible gas. She liked salted peanuts with light beer. She drank two glasses of chardonnay almost every day but would get sick if she had a third. She ate spicy pickled peppers with pizza. At Mexican restaurants she ordered finely chopped jalapeños on the side. She ordered dressings on the side. She hated cilantro, avocados, and bell peppers. She was allergic to celery. She rarely ate sweets, with the exception of the occasional pint of strawberry Häagen-Dazs, a bag of tangerine jelly beans, one or two See’s chocolate truffles around Christmastime, and a blueberry cheesecake on her birthday. She rarely snacked or took breakfast. She had a salty hand.”
The Cut | Read more…
The Bachelor’s controversies, in recent years, are manifold (including former Bachelor, Colton Underwood, recently coming out as gay on “Good Morning America”).
“….if you used to watch The Bachelor for the mindless entertainment of seeing beautiful people fight, cry, and fall in love while taking helicopter rides and drinking champagne, those days of ease are over. The politics-free rosy bubble of The Bachelor franchise has been popped.”
Teen Vogue | Read more...
How do Christian peacemaking and forgiveness interact within the fight for a just world?
“…If by forgiveness we mean that we initiate some action in our own hearts to forget what this country has done to Black bodies and why, then I agree with [Ta-Nehisi] Coates: such forgiveness is meaningless.
…But [theologian Stanley] Hauerwas argues that a robust form of forgiveness as a Christian practice presupposes that ‘peacemaking is that quality of life and practices engendered by a community that knows it lives as a forgiven people.’”
Those who are forgiven offer forgiveness in return.
The Christian Century | Read more…
Just for Fun…
Stay safe out there, will ya? And watch out for stray croissants…
(From the Huffington Post)