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Hosting the times …in ourselves and with others

June 27, 2020 John O’Brien



The fast moving shocks of recognized inequalities in the effects of the pandemic and the mass mobilization in response to the murder of George Floyd create profound questions of personal and collective responsibility. The social context demands action that has tangible, structural consequences. Can all that has become visible signal a turning toward reparation and slow steps forward on long, hard paths toward healing? How do we responsibly hold the realizations and questions that Cherry Oakley speaks?

How do I

What I thought I knew I didn’t

How do I hold myself personally accountable

How do I hold myself

How do I stand in the gap

How do I reconcile

I wanted to avoid

But how do I live my life knowing what I know now

How do I respond to what I know now

The ground keeps shifting

How have I taken advantage

How do I take advantage of this pause of the systems that are inherently exclusionary

No way we are done being stretched

How do I hold the space

The space is heartbreak

How do I

Discovering how we will live our lives knowing what we know now depends how artfully we host personal and collective sensing into uncertainty to find proper names for what is broken and indicators of what is possible; letting go and connecting to highest potential; and creating new practices and structures in our own lives, our neighborhoods and communities, our organizations, and our society. Holding the space that allows responsible action stretches the intelligences of our minds, hearts, and hands.

As Gabi Opazo shows us, our emotional responses to the space that is heartbreak carry much that is essential to responsible action. Taking a personal pause, letting these feelings come, holding them, letting knowledge emerge from them can open a way to difficult conversations that embrace uncertainty and generate action that makes the most of the (potentially pregnant) social pause our world shares.

As Gabi Opazo shows us, our emotional responses to the space that is heartbreak carry much that is essential to responsible action. Taking a personal pause, letting these feelings come, holding them, letting knowledge emerge from them can open a way to difficult conversations that embrace uncertainty and generate action that makes the most of the (potentially pregnant) social pause our world shares.

Within ourselves, and in conversation with others, we will hear the voices that try to numb us from sensing the impacts of structural violence, absence us from highest possibilities, and frighten us away from inventing new structures and practices. If we take a moment reflect on what these voices say to us and when they show up, we can notice some of the ways we limit ourselves by shutting down curiosity, blunting compassion, and discouraging reaching out and stepping forward. Reflecting on the our own voice of judgement can show us some of the prejudices we reproduce. Reflecting on our own voice of cynicism can show us how we retreat from exercising power with others. Reflecting on our own voice of fear can show us the vulnerabilities that sideline us.

Always coming back to discover how to hold the space as the ground shifts will put us in position to act responsibly.

Thanks to Kirk Hinkleman for this graphic summary.

Hear Cherry’s voice in her spoken word summary here.

Cherry also gave us the powerful quotation from James Baldwin incorporated into the image on page 3 and a link to the 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, which can be found at www.EddieMooreJr.com.