I find myself at a loss for how to begin this post. For years, it seems, we have been in the death throes of an empire in collapse. Just when we think we can breathe and it seems as if there is a light breaking on the horizon, another hammer falls. As we begin to believe compassion has gained a leg up, that leg is torn out from beneath us. Texas’ successful ban on abortion and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to take action against the ban is the most recent in a long line of seeming victories for patriarchal oppression. Voter suppression is another of those patriarchal “victories.”
Between the events of our nation and the personal attacks against compassion I have witnessed on social media, it has been a discouraging time for many. Those of a compassionate heart see and understand the dire need facing the oppressed in our culture. Today, the oppressed include all people of color, women, the jobless, the underemployed, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, cognitively diverse, sexually and gender-diverse people, the planet itself – essentially anyone/anything not benefitting from the current system. We see the need. We feel the need. We are likely experiencing some level of that need ourselves. And, we want to see significant societal and systemic change to remedy these needs.
On the other side of the need, however, are those who benefit from a system of oppression, or see their own need as somehow the fault of the oppressed (in psychological terms, this is called transference). These folks are fighting to maintain their privilege. Many are fighting dirty. When the compassionate come face to face with this violence, it feels like an attack, because it is.
These are challenging times as we find ourselves, literally, as a nation at war with itself. When we really think about it and cast a wide net, we could also say that we are a world at war with itself. The likely question is, “Who will win,” but the deeper question is how can we be a vehicle for change in a way that brings benefit to all? This is the question compassion would ask of us, but the hard reality is that to bring compassion and balance into our world, those benefitting from a system of oppression will have to let something go. Hence, the violence behind their fight to maintain power and control.
We must not lose hope, however, as the other hard reality is that the current system simply cannot sustain itself. By its own hand, the system will fall……and falling it is. The increasing violence against the oppressed is itself a symptom of the system’s impending collapse. The harder the patriarchy clings to its control, the more swiftly it will slip through its fingers. This is the nature of control. On the surface it may look as if things are getting worse for the oppressed but, it is the death throes we are witnessing.
As we witness the death of an imperialistic system, we are invited to discern our role. We cannot stop the death, neither should we try. We can, however, be a source of support for each other, for those who may be called to activism, and for those who are suffering in the increasing violence brought about by this death. Like every good death we all have a role to play. Most importantly, we must take care of ourselves, because if we are not caring for ourselves, we are no good as a source of support for others as together we witness the end of the patriarchal system of oppression and the hopeful birth of something new.