by Tina Kopko, Inauguration Day, 1/20/21
We must refrain from pointing a finger at others and calling out “Evil.”
We must instead acknowledge any unloving, unkind, jealous, greedy, selfish inklings inside ourselves.
The practice I am imploring each of us to undergo is called “Eating the Shadow.”
If we are to root out evil, we must start inside of our own minds and bodies.
An ignorance of how I am like the “other” is the source of evil actions.
If I find myself recoiling at the prospect of that, I know I have things in my shadow that don’t want to be dragged into the light, that want my permission to keep operating under cover of darkness, and those things will keep me small, bitter, resentful and in attack mode.
I must acknowledge that I, too, have done things that have hurt others, taken from others, withheld from others, ignored the needs of others, or spoken ill intentions into the air.
With humility, I root out and acknowledge the ways in which I have acted like others who I might want to condemn.
Unity is not what you think it is.
Unity is not when everyone agrees and loves each other.
Unity is not just for those who speak and behave in ways that I condone.
Unity, instead, is a courageous act of taking back what I have ascribed to others.
It is a compassionate embracing of the darker aspects of humanity, and saying, “yes, I own you too.”
Unity is owning all of myself, the good, the bad, the ugly, the fearful, then making apologies, and vowing to do better with a fuller knowledge of what my actions have caused.
Unity is making a choice every day to shine the light on the parts of myself that I have denied.
Unity requires deep humility, profound honesty, and rigorous self-accountability.
Performing this first, before asking others to do so, is called true leadership. The world needs leaders right now.
We are right to hold people accountable for the consequences they have produced. Doing so with kindness, empathy and, eventually, forgiveness releases us (not them) from the chains of despair and hatred. Holding someone accountable does not mean hating or shaming them, especially in some court of public opinion. It is the difference between a town hanging or stoning, and a community circle holding the offender in tight embrace until they are able to atone.
We can only change the world by changing ourselves. If we want to achieve the vision of unity and healing, we must start inside ourselves, stop pointing our fingers, stop aiming our hatred at something outside of ourselves, and denying what’s in our own shadow.
"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there."