When we get caught in a communication shame spiral, we lose the meaningful significance of the great accomplishments and glory that our forebears painfully created.
Both sides of the culture war are fighting for or against many things, and in this angry, verbally violent, shame-focused, guilt-ridden language, we may lose the power that our ancestors fought so hard to obtain.
For example, perhaps your ancestors were enslaved in the American South. They lived an impoverished, tortured existence, and yet, you are here because they overcame. They overcame slavery having no education, no property, no voice, and no choices. Yet their will to live, to strive, and to overcome created the spirit of life and legacy that brought you here.
You are here today because of the actions they were able to take and the decisions they made to survive and create a future they would never see. At some point, even if it was within a limited circumference of empowerment, they chose to embrace the power they had to secure their legacy. They overcame the oppression of slavery with nothing more than the pure spirit of human ingenuity…and indomitable courage. We must not lose this truth in the divisive communication known as culture wars that’s happening today.
You are alive today because of the power and spirit of your ancestral life force.
An overemphasis on shame-based, guilt-ridden language keeps everyone stuck in a mentality of being victimized. In many cases this type of language will not empower you. What can and will empower you is to pridefully celebrate their inherited strength which you already possess.
You are here now because of the strength and determination to overcome forces larger than that of your forebears.
If that’s not empowerment I don’t know what is.
Now, let’s be clear. I am not saying that we should not ignore thousands of negative events, atrocities, and the great evils of our past. To do so is to be doomed to repeat them again. To do so is to be damned to repeat them again. I am also not condoning the practices of toxic positivity or spiritual bypassing that are so prevalent in our culture today. Each of these practices simply bypasses the pain and healing. We must come face-to-face with our past evils as a nation so that we can do and be better in the future.
Thomas Moore states in the introduction to Robert Romanyshyn’s book The Soul In Grief,
“How important our mourning is, and how blind our ways of desperately seeking distance from our melancholy! Americans run to the nearest and steadiest sunshine, not only in their search for a geographical home, but for an emotional safety zone.”
We must learn how to grieve our losses.
What I am also saying, is that part of being able to move forward is to not be ensnared by the language wars both sides are determined to fight, because these language wars keep us stuck.
Another example, many Irish and Italian ancestors were ruthlessly persecuted in their countries of origin. They faced extreme hunger and poverty because of little food or money yet many emigrated across the Atlantic to survive. You are here now because of them. All the judgment of politics and wars and beliefs of the time pale in comparison to the strength it took for them to travel to America and arrive with nothing. If that’s not empowerment I don’t know what it is. As you reflect on the past, be sure to celebrate their legacy, and not only amplify the tragedies incurred from opposing forces which they overcame and endured.
Some ancestors experienced genocides for their ethnicity, religious beliefs, or cultural differences from the norms of the ruling societies of the day. You are here regardless of race, color, or creed. That’s true empowerment and that’s why you’re here.
A critical step in empowering yourself today is learning to be intentional around your choice of language.
Make sure you are verbally celebrating the strength and courage of your ancestors that led you to be here and being alive today in the 21st century. You may have your opinions about the past, yet who knows what you would have done under similar circumstances? What I do know is that you are here because your ancestors did their best during the worst circumstances that any human being could possibly live through.
You are here because of that strength and the fact that you inherited this gift of life which should be honored and celebrated every day that you’re alive.
I know one thing for sure no one ever asked for what life gave them. Life’s cardinal rule of survival seems to be ‘adapt or die.’
If you notice that you are caught in a communication shame-spiral or find yourself getting caught in endless verbal battles about the past, perhaps it is time to accept which will amplify the overcoming spirit of your forebears that led you to be alive today. It’s time to celebrate their strength, tenacity, and courage. Gratitude honors these qualities. This does not serve anyone to erase or excuse the past, but what it does for you is it re-focuses you on the qualities your forbears had that you want to carry forward in your life.
You are here because they survived in thrived with what was given to them, and you can do the same today.
The best way to honor them is to enjoy the fruits of their struggles that led to your life. Being alive in the 21st Century is a gift. Celebrate that empowerment while you look forward to a future dream come true. The rest is up to you. They will ‘rest in peace’ knowing they birthed a future that they would never see. All the suffering in the world will not bring them back to life… At the very least enjoy your ‘gift of life’ for them. Maybe heaven will smile on your progress towards fulfillment. Remember, YOU are your ancestors’ dreams come true. Even if you emanated from their nightmare of horrific experiences, you represent HOPE! Let the ancestral trials and struggles remain in the PAST. You embody their PRESENT and GIFT for the FUTURE!
Namaste GARY STUART Sept. 2021