July 8, 2016

This is the Protest we Could be Having.

I originally wrote this piece after leaving the peaceful protest regarding what had been, at that time, the most recent shooting involving a police officer.

After I wrote my initial piece, things changed and five police officers were killed in Dallas at a protest around the same problem—except it is not just a problem, we all know we are beyond that, this is a pattern.

And it has to stop.

But, it does not matter where I live, it does not matter that this happened here or that it could have happened thousands of miles away or five or 25 years ago.

What matters is that it happened. What matters is that it is still happening.

What matters is all of the things that Philando Castile was to so many people, and what matters is who all of you are to so many people.

What happened matters. It matters a great deal, and until we continue to shed light on these situations they will continue, because the darkness can only continue without the light.

What matters more, what matters the most, is what happens now.

A dear friend of mine said to me this morning, “This sucks…but the upswing.”

Yes, the upswing. How do we get to the upswing and how do we begin to feel the upswing?

I want to let you all know that I felt it yesterday. I got a taste of it and it was so strong that I know that this is the beginning, despite the violent acts of retribution hours after I initially wrote about my personal experience here in St. Paul.

I could write about what happened in that car here in this city. I could write about the video. I could write about the fact that there was a child present and, speaking of children, I could write about the fear that we are all doing our best to cope with around where this world is headed for all of our children. But it is in focusing on this that the troubled and desperate-for-survival side of human nature take the wheel and this is how situations like what happened in Dallas occur.

I am not going to write about the horrific situation that occurred here or what happened in Dallas last night, because while this does need to be looked at, I refuse to allow my gaze to focus on the darkness of the situation, rather I am going to focus on what I witnessed and experienced yesterday in the light of day.

I joined the crowd at the Governor’s mansion in St. Paul because I felt my heart and my soul and everything within me wanting to do anything that I can to not only support those who are hurting, but to allow myself to listen for direction on what I can do, personally, to shift this momentum toward something very different. 

Slowly walking through the news vans and people from the press with their large cameras and yellow notepads, planning strategically how to communicate through their means to tell the story from their perspectives, I was not sure what to expect this soon after something so brutal had taken place just miles down the road.

What I want to write about though is my perspective, and I have not felt so much hope—maybe in my life as I do this very moment as I write this.

I did not bring a notepad, but my ears were open to listen.

I did not have a large camera, but my heart was open to feel and to sense, if nothing else, anything that my voice could offer to support the infiltration of light into this wretched situation and then out into the rest of the world.

The first three words that I heard being spoken by the man who was speaking and leading the crowd at the time, were “grace and love.”

Grace and love.

What I felt from this group, many still very understandably raw with emotion and grieving in their own ways, angry and willing to do whatever it takes to just. make. this. stop.

What I saw yesterday, I strongly feel was the beginning of its own momentum.

The beginning of the upswing.

This was a strong group who was choosing to respond to situation which represents humanity at its darkest with love and grace rather than fear.

This is the beginning.

This is the beginning of choosing on an individual level to respond with love to these situations—and sometimes at the root of a fiery passion that we feel is needed to transform a situation…sometimes that root is love.

Love is the protest.

This is the beginning of protesting all of the hatred and fear in the world with something that conquers all. Always.

All ways.

This does not mean complacency…oh, no. This is about making choices that stem from something different. Something that orients toward the best possible situation for all involved—because this is possible.

This is the beginning of choosing our reactions at the dinner table when the news is on the television. This is the beginning of breathing and smiling at someone even when we may not understand them, because at both the beginning and the end of every day, we can understand their humanity. This is the beginning of transmuting our lineage and our history, through grace…in the most paceful of ways.

Because, we can.

Every single one of us can.

This comes down to individual choice instead of pointing the finger while still allowing our voices to be heard and it is with those voices that we need to speak with the strongest of conviction.

We will be heard.

You will be heard.

We are all pillars needing to hold up the roof of these cultures and the justice that is at stake, where every single one of us has the right to feel safe and loved and accepted and until every single one of us can stand individually, the roof will continue to fall.

The socio-economical complexities. The corruption with our law enforcement. The system which gives preferential treatment to one yet not another due to color or class or gender. This needs to begin to shift in a different direction, and this all needs to happen, now.

In the meantime, every single one of us can look within ourselves and we can choose to orient—really, really orient, individually, toward a different type of existence where we make the conscious decision daily to see that every single soul who exists on this planet is nothing but light and love underneath all of these layers and constructs.

We can actually choose to see this and be this, not just to read about it on a Mindful website, and not just point the finger at others to do the same.

This is where our personal power lies and this is the greatest power of all.

This is the upswing.

We can decide that when we put down our phones and close our laptops and choose to see the next person that we see, and the person after that and until our eyes can no longer see and our hearts no longer beat we can choose to see during every single encounter that this is real. 

Every single moment is a new beginning where we have a new opportunity to walk our talk, and this starts now—because it is always now. Always.

We heal each other by first healing ourselvesand healing begins with being able to look inside of your mind to see the dark thoughts for what they really are—they’re lies.

This is about listening to ourselves. This is about listening to those who are hurting and who are pleading for justice and orienting toward any single way that we can to aid in the momentum of a shift for peace and equality.

We might feel helpless. This may seem bigger than us, and change will happen on some of these outer levels, but it needs to begin within each of us in order to be realized outside of any of us.

This is how we can begin to create something different—via love and grace, first and foremost, for ourselves and ultimately for each other.

And so I send out what I experienced from this group and what resonated in my heart as true and as the most tangible of faith for every single one of us.

This is how the upswing starts and gathers tangible momentumwith every single choice that we make that orients us individually and collectively toward love—and this is how it continues.






Author: Katie Vessel

Photo: Twitter 

Editors: Renée Picard; Emily Bartran

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