An Un-Lived Life …

An unlived life

Grrrr. Boooo. Hiss. Pffft. Arghhh …

A little while ago, I experienced a particularly troubling week … one in which my emotions got really ramped up.  I don’t tend to get triggered all that easily anymore, but two days in a row, right back to back, I endured distinctly different scenarios that both wreaked havoc with my heart and left me fumbling my way through the fountain of unfavorable feelings that arose in the face of those formidable frustrations.  And so … as I often do … I took pen to page to help me find the message that those muddled moments may be holding for me.

I remain so deeply discouraged by the inherent powerlessness of marginalization … both feeling it myself during that particularly woeful week and observing it for others – far, far too often. There are some things that are beyond my control. Important things. Or, perhaps it would be fairer to say, things that are important to me.  And important to some others …. but, for the most part, they are things that the vast majority doesn’t experience as a problem.  And, sadly, unless or until an issue affects people personally, many will not acknowledge, recognize  or even give much attention to such things.

Perhaps it is truer to say that in our dominant cultural majority, we have the exquisite privilege of not needing to understand the particular problems of  those who are unlike us … of those whose issues lie beyond the margins of our own lived experience. And, regrettably, we live in a world where assuming an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ stance is often glamorized as a desirable patriotic position and/or a reflection of our religious devotion. Sadly though, this sets up an ‘either/or‘ mentality rather than a ‘both/and‘ mindset.  And as a result, a very well intended desire to take care of our own often means that the issues of others get subjugated and dismissed. Or, even worse … ridiculed. Yes. Ridiculed. We get to be oblivious about the issues that affect them, because the obstacles they may be facing are just not at all apparent upon our own paths.

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated.

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated.

When you are NOT the one being oppressed, you have the luxury of not even noticing the prickles and perils on the path that ‘others’ are experiencing.  And, you don’t even know what you don’t know because the ‘others’ are grappling with issues that have never even hit your radar.  It’s not that you don’t care.  You do care.  And you may very earnestly believe in equality … and … you might even think that because things are purported to be equal, that all people have the same rights and opportunities as you do.  Some may even think, if they don’t take advantage of the options in front of them, well … that is not my problem.  They could get it together, if they just tried or if they were really committed to helping themselves.

But ‘equal’ does not mean ‘equitable’.

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated.

Adapted from original source: Craig Froehle

And so, those with the most power and advantage can unwittingly continue to step over the unmet needs of others.  Not because they are heartless.  No. Not at all … but because they really don’t see the problem.  And, they honestly don’t.  It is simply not an issue that registers in the framework of their experience, and so they have trouble understanding how it could be a problem  for others.  From where they are looking, they see lots of  options that could be accessed … they see solutions that are not being actualized.  But, they cannot see how their own alignment with the majority affords them an unfair advantage … a fast track to ‘solutions’ that seem simple and obvious to them, but in reality, are not accessible to all. Many, in fact, will speak about their privileged standpoint as though it were a merit they somehow earned.

And yet, there are some places where we get that it is not a matter of choice.  We understand that we must collectively seek to disrupt the inequitable disparity among us.  Golfers get it.  They honor differences and foster equity by offering handicaps in order to level the playing field in terms of skill sets.  And somewhere along the way, we realized that the racers on the outside lane on an oval track have further to go, so we stagger the starting line to offset the advantages on the inner lanes. There are many places in the arena of athletics when/where we do acknowledge inequities and seek to rectify them.

But, it’s entirely exasperating to attempt to address a social issue with people on the inner lanes that don’t see the problem for those on the outside lanes.  Even those with ample power to changes things, may feel no sense of responsibility to rectify the issues others are be facing. Arghhhh.

Source Uknown

Source Uknown

And so, with that recognition, it is so tempting to simply give up … to allow myself to be silenced … to succumb in weary resignation and benignly accept the mainstream majority’s perceptions of what is ‘right’ for this world and/or adopt their narrowed notions about which minorities might deservedly merit some accommodations … and … which do not.

But … to do so … would leave my life un-lived.  To do so, would leave my days un-inhabited by the very things that steal my heart and kindle my inner flame.  To fail to show up for the ‘truths’ in my own soul would be to suffocate my spirit.  And, I sense deeply that this is no way for me to fully embrace my days.

As Dawn Markova points out: I must risk the falling … I must risk catching fire … I must allow my living to crack me wide open.  I must pursue my own particular passions and plant the seeds … in hopes of enjoying the blossoms … and … trusting in the fruits of my efforts, even if I never get to taste them myself.

I remember my red-faced recognition of my own complicity in the marginalization of others. I was taking a class in social work. I remember learning things I did not know.  I remember questioning why these important things were not taught to us in our mainstream curriculum.  I remember wanting to hide.  I remember wanting to blame others.  I remember my sense of shame  … and  … I remember ultimately recognizing that if I was not part of the solution, than I was part of the problem … by default.  

And so, I feel both obligated and compelled to inhabit my days more fully invested; with my eyes fixed beyond my own lived experience, using my voice to stretch awareness and disrupt the oppressive influences that I become aware of … despite risking my connection to my mainstream comforts – despite risking connection with the family/friends who can make me feel safe in my own comfort zone … because as Ben Franklin so wisely recognized:

justice - 1

And so, with a tremble and a tear, I make this pledge to myself.  I humbly choose to risk my significance. I cannot comfortably inhabit the polarized dualism of us versus them.  I cannot keep my gaze reduced to my own lane.  I cannot step over the injurious conjecture or contemptuous confabulations coming from those who don’t see or erroneously dismiss the complexities of an issue  … even though I have an understanding of some of the fears that perpetuate the problem.  I do recognize that we may personally pay a price when we make room for ‘others.’ And, I realize that when you are accustomed to living with privilege, a movement towards inclusion and equity can feel threatening … it can even seem like reverse oppression.  I get that. I just can’t continue to condone it with my silence.

So, I do expect some push back. But I am also sensing that many in the mainstream majority will want to meet me on the margins.  Many will want to gain a better understanding of what it is that we have not lived …  so we might learn what it is that we don’t yet know. Ultimately, for me, I am realizing that I have to keep stretching myself because it just doesn’t feel right for me to continue to dwell silently in those privileged spaces …without further investigation about who is paying the price for my comforts …and/or … who does not have access to the same.

I think its because I cannot fully live there … Karen

P.S. I believe that talking about power and privilege is not about imposing guilt on the mainstream. It is not about blaming and shaming any of us.  From where I am looking it is more like talking about air.  Please click here if you are interested in that conversation.

Please note that WordPress.com may place advertisements on my blog sites. The presence of these ads does not constitute my endorsement of the information, services, or products found in them.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Miriam
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 18:30:57

    Thought provoking post Karen. There’s so much going on in this world that we all need to open our heart and mind to. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Val Boyko
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 20:26:56

    Well written. Injustice sucks.lets be a part of the solution 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Dan Vanden Dungen
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 20:43:32

    Great post. I can very much relate to the journey.

    By the way, here is a source for your Equality vs Equity graphic. It is an interesting story in and of itself:

    View story at Medium.com

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Karen Lanser
      Jun 26, 2016 @ 20:51:10

      Thanks Dan! I had no idea that the graphic had so many iterations! And … it is fascinating to notice how it has been tweeted to serve varying interests and agendas. I appreciate your nudge to its inception.

      Like

      Reply

  4. Debora Bradley
    Jun 27, 2016 @ 10:36:09

    I have been feeling some dis-ease and reading this article today, along with the powerful visuals has been fuel for my heart. As a fellow coach & friend , I have the highest respect for you Karen. You are the real deal. Karen you always seek to help, encourage and find solid ground for your self and all of us to walk ‘together’ on. I love this conversation and I thank you for sharing it.

    Like

    Reply

    • Karen Lanser
      Jun 27, 2016 @ 17:05:13

      Thank you again Debora for always choosing to see the best in my efforts … and …for your unwavering support and encouragement. Your words are warming my heart and helping to silence my fears! xo

      Like

      Reply

  5. my one life. today
    Jun 27, 2016 @ 15:10:14

    I love your post and the visuals going along with it, especially the first one. What a beauty of a quote! Choosing to risk your significance is a very courageous thing to do. It’s hard enough to do for your own good, but even more so for that of others. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed the read a lot, as always with your writing. Warmest wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Karen Lanser
      Jun 27, 2016 @ 17:01:33

      Thank you Renée! It does feel really risky to step out of your own comfort zone and risk offending those in your own circle (the mainstream) in order to stand up for those who have been so dismissed that they don’t necessary trust you enough to embrace you or your efforts. It can feel really lonely in this gap … so … thank you for your encouragement and kind acknowledgement. It is deeply appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  6. Trackback: Well, I Sure Got Told, Didn’t I … ?!? | Miracles! Your Center for Well-Being Inc.
  7. Writing to Freedom
    Jul 21, 2016 @ 11:30:21

    An honest and insightful post Karen. Thanks for being willing to discuss and work to address these tough issues. I choose to work for peace and better communication. blessings, Brad

    Like

    Reply

    • Karen Lanser
      Jul 22, 2016 @ 08:19:16

      So very glad our paths have crossed Brad. I look forward to spending some time with your blog and taking in more of your posts. Grateful to share this allied space … 🙂

      Like

      Reply

  8. harulawordsthatserve
    Oct 23, 2016 @ 01:23:54

    A wonderful, powerful post Karen. The carefully chosen graphics really hit me, and I’m with you all the way on this complex issue. Somehow made me think of this quote from To Kill A Mockingbird
    “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
    Because I feel I need to keep my expectations in check in order to be in this for the long haul, to live this vision moment by moment and with kindness, otherwise it feels too big and I might get overwhelmed. Hmmm – early morning thoughts, not sure I was clear but wanted to comment. More to think about. Thank you 🙂 Blessings, Harula xx

    Like

    Reply

    • Karen Lanser
      Oct 23, 2016 @ 07:00:45

      I am so grateful our paths have crossed Haruka… and … thank you for citing the quote. It is really timely for me … another exquisite reminder that courage doesn’t always get you over the finish line but it alters the vibrational frequency of the planet. And … I sure do want to be part of that benevolent spin. Warmest blessings to you … 😊

      Like

      Reply

I'd sure love to hear your thoughts ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

My Tributes: Better Because of You ...

Better Because You chose Me …

I’d heard her name before. She and my bestie had met each other in class … there were both enrolled as mature students in the Social Work program offered through a nearby University.  The woman standing before me introduced herself as “Jody”.  She was direct … and … got right to the point. She was […]

Better Because You You Were There For Me … Thank You Marion!

Better Because You You Were There For Me … Thank You Marion!

With the jubilant joys of my 60th birthday celebrations starting to dim in the distance … imagine my surprise when I received a bright blue envelope via snail mail (aka: Canada Post.)  It was a greeting card from one of the people I had met and befriended decades ago while we were both living in […]

Better Because You Moseyed on Over …

Better Because You Moseyed on Over …

Its YOUR Birthday Hutch! Welcome to the sixties!  It’s tempting to poke fun at your age, but considering that you just caught up with me, I shall refrain. In fact, to the contrary, your buddy and I would like to dedicate this day to celebrating YOU … and … all the ways our lives have […]

Better Because of You … and … my 20 plus 2 years with FCSS!

I was scheduled to receive my 20 year long service recognition award at an agency function on Saturday, January 12 … but … because I won’t be at the gathering, I had arranged for my colleagues to accept it on my behalf.  They agreed to record the moment, so that I too, could listen to […]

Better Because of “The Vow” … By Debbie Ford

Perhaps 2018 is the year for us to make this impeccable vow to ourselves and for ourselves.  In this short 4 minutes … Debbie Ford invites each and every one of us to stand in the best expression of who we can be in the world. We are all so much better for the legacy […]

%d bloggers like this: