Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Martin Luther King
Trauma lingers in our body systems from all those moments when something happens that is too painful or fearful for us to integrate. Animals seem to have an easier time shaking off the energy of shock and stress – we see ducks naturally shaking themselves to let go of accumulated adrenaline after fierce encounters. Unfortunately perhaps, we humans are more able to hide and internalize stress, and we end up carrying within our bodies not only the trauma from experiences in our individual lives but also the historic trauma from generations that went before.
The cruelty and terror that accompany wars, colonialism, slavery, rape – all of these have left deep scars within the tissue of humanity which are passed on from generation to generation. When we meet in our communities and global networks, and when we start to develop trust, honesty and intimacy with one another, these scar tissues find enough safety to show up. We may experience this as a move from unconscious numbness to acute discomfort. By nature, it is painful and frightening. Our patterns of self-defense are likely to be triggered. The feelings hidden within the wounds we carry were overwhelming at the time, and they might still feel overwhelming when we touch them again now. Yet, they come up for healing.
Trauma is frozen life force – in order to melt back into the river of life it needs the compassionate witnessing presence of the other. We can learn to recognize trauma in ourselves and others. We can learn to self-regulate trauma so that it does not become overwhelming. We can learn to hold space consciously for each other so that healing and forgiveness can take place. Ubuntu – I am because you are.