Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Can there be peace and protest?
The recent loss of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian has been a time of reflection for me, especially about John Lewis' words "good trouble." What does it really mean? Isn't that a paradox of sorts?
We are often faced with life's complexities and tensions and struggles that go with it. Life is not a simple set of rules that you can 'tick on' to make life work one way, or 'tick off ' to make life work another way. Life is a series of events and decisions and choices, all of which converge in constant intersections to bring forth our lives individually and collectively. It is diverse by design and diversity demands complexity, not simplicity.
We have to build our capacity to hold paradox.
We have to build our capacity to hold competing tensions. We tend to want life to be super simple. If every circumstance had a direct easily named cause then wouldn't life be easy? But that is not how life plays itself out. Life shows up as dynamic and changing and thrilling and harrowing and more. And we must hold the complexities of all the different pieces of life simultaneously. Isn’t this really the tension within which we live?
"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble." - Congressman John Lewis
If there was a simple solution to systemic racism, we would have figured it out by now. Just some simple solution in which we could pull a lever and all the hatred, othering, killing, everything stops. Alas, this is not the case. "Systemic racism is a complex set of norms, values, policies, and processes that exist in every atom of our culture and society. Racism disadvantages one group while simultaneously advantaging another.” (paraphrased from Dr. Camara Jones). Complex issues require intentionality and reflection and commitment to show up, make mistakes, and try again.
And herein lies the paradox of peace. That trouble can be good. That we must hold struggle and optimism, unrest and peace. Protests and unrest are not a sign of our disintegration as a society, but instead they are evidence that our society and culture have grown the capacity to hold the complexity of systemic racism and dismantling it at the same time. Peace is not the external appearance of everything seeming calm and okay, but the experience of remaining centered and focused even when competing tensions exist.
As John Lewis said, "good and necessary trouble." The paradox of peace and protest.
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” - Unknown
Adria Kitchens is a Certified Feminine Power Transformational Coach, Facilitator and Leader and mother of three amazing adult children living their passions in the world. She has been personally mentored by Dr. Claire Zammit, creator of Feminine Power and founder of Evolving Wisdom, for over a decade. She has a MBA, MAFM from Keller Graduate School of Management, a BA from Johns Hopkins University and is a native of and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.