Am I Complicit?


Searching My Soul

For a while now I’ve been engaged in some depth work. It’s been triggered by the heartache I feel from the many stories of women who have been victimized, and the African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and Native Americans who are being targeted. The Las Vegas killing fields only added fuel to my grief, though I must admit that the deepest hurt comes from the personal stories of friends and loved ones who have been on the receiving end of the targeting. And the denial of these realities in the larger community is deeply troubling, especially the vehement reactions and rejections by those who are largely white, many of whom are male, and a large group who are Christian.

The result is that I’ve been searching my soul. It is unpleasant work, but necessary. While I’ve done much shadow work, peering into by insides to ferret out ugliness unseen, it has never become comfortable for me.

By many standards I’m a reasonably upstanding member of this American culture. Yet if I am vulnerably honest with myself, and now with you, as part of the privileged class of white, educated, financially secure people, I am implicated as a member of the culture that allows or perpetuates such destructive actions. 

So first I ask myself if I have been a perpetrator. The answer is mostly reassuring. I have never knowingly acted against women, blacks, Latinos, Muslims, or Native Americans. I’m not guilty of overt acts.

However, when I search deeply, it pains me to acknowledge that there has been much ignorance on my part. Especially this was true when I was younger, coarser, and driven blindly by my ego and by alcoholism. None of which is an excuse, though it does help me to see that I could not see. I did not understand that I had unconscious biases. I was unaware of a deeply ingrained objectification of women. I certainly had no clue of the many ways that fear ruled my actions.

It was only through a series of deliberate searches including disquieting assessments that I began to see my blind spots. Without the help of a handful of teachers and mentors who poked and prodded at my ignorance, I would still be deeply mesmerized by my own deceptions. Were it not for an intriguing mix of courageous people who opened up to me about their experiences, my heart could never have been broken open.

So too do I owe a deep debt to my mother and father. Somehow they inculcated in me an ability to have mutual respect for others, to not believe myself better or worse than others. At a much later time as an adult, I came to see that the root of much animosity comes from seeing others as other, different, less than. I wish my parents were still alive so I could thank them for this great gift, though I suspect they would have been mystified by something they did as part of their nature.

My soul searching forces me to look also to my present reality. Am I supporting or condoning conduct of others that is problematic? Do I speak up when necessary, to call out and engage others? Are my actions consistent with the valuing of others as equals and as humans?

On these last questions, I am thankful that despite a human ego and inner shadows yet unresolved, I provide myself a passing grade. At the same time, self-honesty still shows inner work to be done. I am not yet the change I wish to see in the world, though I have come very far.

Finally I arrive at the hardest question. Is there something more I should do?

With that I begin to cry. I do not know the way.

And a prayer arises spontaneously. Help me.

Seeing True™

Are you already living as the solution? Are you willing to do so? Can you even be willing to be willing?

Seeing True™ in Action

Over and over again I am asked how one can find their own way forward. While I have many thoughts, the experiences I described earlier are my best suggestion.

  • Explore the ways in which we may be in delusion or denial about the real world around us.
  • Take honest stock of where we stand relative to the wrongs of the world. Are we perpetrators? Are we ignorant? Are we complicit?
  • What are we doing to explore our own darkness?
  • Who are we engaging in our growth and development?
  • Are there actions we are already taking? 
  • Is there something we can and should do?
  • Can we allow ourselves to truly feel?