It’s been a hard time in America. I wish I could say surreal, but sadly, we are adapting to a new normal. Threats, bombs, killings, hate. And, there is no sign that it will stop anytime soon.
We gasp. We send our thoughts and prayers – whatever that means. Yet, we are buried under a perpetual tsunami of animus. Powerless to make a difference in the current tide of our culture. Thoughts and prayers seem to be the limit of imaginable effective change.
But, it’s not working, folks. It is not enough.
“Gun control!” scream the Blues.
“Mental health!” yell the Reds in retort.
“Violence to end violence!” says our current President.
Love in the form of permission, say I.
Because isn’t our country immense enough to hold all forms of humanity? Wasn’t our country founded on freedom of expression and desire for independence? Are our hearts so small and restricted that we can love only certain colors, sexualities, genders and religions? Can’t our emotional worlds go beyond fear to curiosity, understanding, tolerance and dare I say, celebration?
This is my world. On Friday, in rainy DC traffic, I drove to one airport to pick-up my daughter’s best friend from camp (who happens to be French) so that the girls can have a weekend of teenage delight. I dropped them home to giggles and hot pizza. I then headed north, still in the deluge, to Washington’s other airport to pick-up my African family who are residing in our home for a month. My other “adopted” daughter, with her elderly mother and baby daughter in tow, had been to Disneyland for the week. They hugged me bigly as I welcomed them back home. A full house. The United Nations. All sleeping under my roof. Eight diverse humans, two dogs, and one snake. It is my normal.
As a group psychotherapist, I offer patients a second-chance family. Ones that give the message of “come as you are.” There is no wrong way to be. You bring what you got because you got it for a reason. It may not be working for you anymore, but we start where we are. Because, the group – our family – is big enough. Our hearts are open enough. There is room for all. With permission and openness, expansion is now possible. Because tolerance and compassion provide the calm necessary for growth.
What does it cost you to love more? Last I checked, love, is not a limited resource. I don’t have to agree with you. I can even disagree with you. But, I can make room for allowance and maybe on a good day, for understanding. Because our country is big enough. The heart can stretch wide enough. Sharing with you does not take away from me because I have more than I need. And love is our superpower.
We stop hate when we stop blaming others and take a harsh look at ourselves.