Can we acknowledge that we are in grief? Are we ready to do that yet? Are we brave enough to say yes, we are hurting regardless of what others may think that might mean?
Are we ready to say out loud that we are still hurt from childhood memories? The way your father raised his voice or his hands, why your mother had to leave when you were ten, why your brother had to die in a foreign land, or why your cousin raped you on those family weekends.
Are we ready to fall to your knees and weep yet? Are we ready to accept the fact that all the hurt that was ever caused, came from the hurt that was caused in a time when you and I had not been born to this earth?
Can we see how humanity has passed trauma on from generation to generation, how it has become embedded in our DNA and our cultures, how innocent the victim that then becomes the perpetrator, how insidiously this trauma continues to exist and maintain its reign by means of the ego?
How this idea that we have a right to feel hurt has created only further hurt because we never stopped to ask how anyone else was actually doing. And when we did, we never really meant it.
Adults never really grew up, if you look at them, you will realise that we just got better at pretending. Working harder and faster and never relenting, planting trees, building orphanages or going out on the weekend and getting bent, we all have reason to hurt, we just pretend we’re ok differently.
We thought it was brave to pretend to be stoic when in fact we are actually very much in pain, suffering silently, and as a result becoming bitter and angry?
Are we ready to acknowledge the obvious fact that all the pain and suffering that we have inflicted upon each other throughout all of human history, was more than likely initiated by the unjust experiences we were subjected to in our early childhood and teens?
Can we see how those fragile hearts, like saplings, grew big and tall but slightly leaning towards behaviours that recreate situations of trauma, so we don’t lose our sense of identity…
You might not remember what it felt like to be spoken to sternly by a parent or screamed at, forgive us Father for we have sinned, but if you watch closely the children around you, you will be reminded of how heartbreaking and completely terrifying that might have been.
To have had your heart broken for a toy you really wanted but never received, or just the anger that builds up over years of never truly being seen. The hurt that grows each year for never being heard or for having parents who were completely absorbed by their community development work, however altruistic it might have seemed?
If you want to know why young boys fight in primary school or on inner city nightclub strips, why they torture animals, or hang themselves with they can’t pay the bills, it’s because they are still hurting, deeply, from things that happened when they were 3.
And nobody was there to teach them emotional stability, healthy relationship skills, communication tools or coping mechanisms. So they became disconnected drunks, violent partners, rapists, misogynist politicians, angry environmentalists, suicidal comedians or social change seeking revolutionaries.
Truth is, we have all experienced trauma and we all have things we need to be grieving. Childhood memories and experiences, the state of the environment, Palestine, Syria, Indigenous deaths in custody, and black men, women and children being gunned down for no apparent reason.
If you want to know why men become obsessed with muscle mass and footy stats, with loud cars and drink too much, it’s because their fathers were raised by fathers who were emotionally repressed and didn’t know how to give a hug, much less how to sit down and have a conversation with their sons and show that they actually care.
So that 3-year old soon turned eighteen and before he knew it he was let out onto the streets, told to pick a job, buy a home, settle down, and be a man when he was never even shown what that really means. Experiencing more trauma through his teens, while hiding his grief and trying to study a degree, to be something he never wanted to be.
We have an entire civilization of terrified little boys who never learnt what it meant to be still, silent and present with their children, who are running around pretending to be grown men, some of them even trying to save the world. They are in positions of power, they are growing older, they are still giving orders, and still not sure what it means to be a man.
They are hurting and grief-stricken and that inner child is weeping inside but boys don’t cry, so they bottle it up and sit quiet, go to jobs they don’t really like, and when it comes knock off time they do shots, visit strip clubs, and then go home and beat their partners to death.
We are all grief-stricken… are we ready to admit it yet?
It’s nobody’s fault, and somehow we are all responsible. I wasn’t there to save you when you were a child, or even last month when that man tried to rape you. And for that I am regretful. I am sorry for what you have all gone through.
I wish I could have stopped it, or that I could go back in time and sat with you on the edge of your bed that night when you were sad and told you, you were already perfect. Before you became a teenager, got into drugs and partying, before you thought heels would make you complete or that dress sizes and lipstick were things of importance.
I’m sorry I didn’t have this much clarity 20 years ago, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be there for you when you needed me, but I was only in my early teens then, and I too had good reason to be hurting.
Instead of a teacher, a role model or someone to tell me it was ok to weep, I had a cousin who introduced me to porn and I became even more alone and life became even more confusing. It wasn’t anybody’s fault, but somehow we are all responsible.
I wish we weren’t all so wounded but we are, and it’s ok my loves we need to grieve, we need to weep, we will hold each other up maybe even lean, until we remember what joy feels like, what it felt like the first time you rode a bike, or flew a kite, back before grief took away our freedom.
We need to admit to the fact that we’re not really angry with the world or anybody else, we’re just upset at all the things we couldn’t stop from happening, for all the times we cried out for help and nobody heard us. That time my grandmother killed my dad’s birds when he was 13.
He still talks about it.
I’m sorry it’s taken this long for us to realise that we are all cells of one being, souls of one body, that there is no other, there is no enemy. We are a single form that is suffering from disease and together we might just be able to heal it. But first, we must acknowledge the fact that we have suffered trauma and we need to support each other as we go through this process of grieving.
But please I beg of you, know that this is crucial, it is extremely important, that while we undergo this process of shedding and growth, the transformation that comes with acknowledging trauma and weeping, please let us not cause each other any further harm, do not call each other names, or point fingers, do not break hearts or fire weapons, put out your Molotov cocktails, look me in the eyes, tell me you need to cry, and let us be done with it.
Let this be the last generation that ever has reason for grieving.
And one final request, the one piece of the puzzle that is most necessary for our peace and stability, for our collective evolution…
If you have children, I beg you, put aside your trivial pursuits, lay your goals and desires to rest, and forget you even have any purpose but to serve them, for I tell you that is the truth. Give them your attention, your presence, your fullest affections, and let them never doubt, not even for a moment, that anything is more important than their finger paintings, their dreams, or their seemingly silly questions.
All we ever needed was parents who were present, listened to our stories with bated breath, cared nothing for the world and all it’s troubles and problems, and cared only to read us stories in bed and make us hot chocolate.
That is how we will change the world… peacefully, without conflict, without revolution and bloodshed, genuinely and sustainably. By paying attention to our children and nothing else, knowing it will take time, but so do apple trees, you think you will change the world in a day? We’ve been at it for thousands of years, I tell you it will all be over in one generation.
If only we could learn to be present, to be gentle, loving, kind and patient. To give our full attention to whoever it is that is before us, grown man, ageing woman, angsty teen or a newborn child that still speaks the language of angels.