Today I heard the most sage words referencing our current national crisis and the experience of black Americans, “This is what happens when they haven’t been listened to for so long”.  Simple and profound.  Exactly. 

Is this an experience you can relate to?  Has this ever happened to you? 

What happens when you haven’t been listened to in so long? 

When your words are not taken seriously, your words are left unheard, or worse when you are told that what you have seen, heard, and felt is actually is not true, what happens to you?

Some people tell me that when their existence and their experiences are ignored, manipulated and minimized, they have become testy, and even violent.   In fact, it seems like it would be very hard not to become consumed by negativity at some point.  Either directed inwardly or outwardly.  

When directed outwardly it might look like throwing things, smashing plates, or yelling, just to make a point that isn’t recognized.  

But mostly in my job as a clinical social worker I see it directed inwardly.  Depression, self-harm, passivity, stuckness.  Many people may judge this stance as lazy, but that is not a helpful way to interact with this person.  It creates an us and them mentality, separation and division.  Not helpful for you or them.  No problem solving, nothing gets better.  

The truth always lies much deeper than what we see from our own limited perspectives.  

This is a terrible time for small businesses whose goods are being looted and windows smashed, but it is a good time for asking questions that go deeper.  What has he experienced? What stories has he lived?  What has he seen, what has he heard?  How has his heart been hurt? 

And while there is a diversity of types of people who are looting, I am now thinking about those who really have lived what may be called, racial traumatization. Chronic, persistent ignoring, minimizing, gaslighting, and worse, aggression, suppression and violence against an entire racial group.  

This is a great time for community conversations however they happen.  It’s a great time for asking questions and expanding your perspective.  

Let’s help ourselves and our fellow community members move forward on the road toward healing.  Unfortunately, some may need a primal scream and to smash things.  And then after the scream, let’s try to support them by listening to them, listening deeply and fully.  No right, no wrong, only present-focused witnessing of a profound truth.  Let’s start listening for so long.