Our birthing process

The clarity from this downpour of emotion brought to us by COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter promises something new and better than we imagined

BRATTLEBORO — Valarie Kaur's new book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto for Revolutionary Love, is a moving and expansive read for me. Valarie's life experience as an American woman of color has much to offer all of us who are willing to listen. She asks:

“What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor? What if all of our grandfathers and grandmothers are standing behind us now, those who survived occupation and genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, detention and political assault? What if they are whispering in our ear, 'You are brave?' What if this is our nation's greatest transition?”

Her words from a New Year's Eve speech in 2016 give me hope, hope for transformation in America, hope for the future, hope for real justice, equality, respect, and compassion for all people. The potential is real with the COVID-19 emergency/threat/trauma.

In the early days of COVID-19, we saw an outpouring of love, concern, and mutual connection. We saw support for all of the health-care workers who valiantly work to treat us and for the essential workers in various jobs who put their health at risk to provide us services, enabling the rest of us to self-quarantine in relative comfort.

Unfortunately, we have not had the leadership at the national or state level to fully engage that potential of unifying the country for the greater good of all.

In the absence of a focused, clear, diverse plan, our collective grief and fear that once united us have been replaced through manipulations of the self-serving leadership into anger and rage that now divide us.

As a result, things seem much darker.

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But I am still hopeful because I see the generosity of Americans reaching out to one another locally, and I hear stories of other neighborhoods and communities where generosity and kindness have bridged differences of culture, religion, skin color, class, or gender.

Transition is the part of birthing labor that is all-encompassing for the mother, all energy focused on moving this new life along: teeth-gritting-and-growling kind of energy! I believe we, in America, are at the transition part of birthing something beautiful for our country.

Painful as it is, this birthing process promises success, because each of us has an individual and unique role to play, and, as Anne Frank said, I believe people are really good at heart, and Americans really do believe in freedom and equality for all.

America's having had to grow up in and as a racist system has muddied the waters of the dream, but the clarity from this downpour of emotion brought to us by COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter promises the birth of something new and better than we imagined.

Now part of our labor of love can be re-imagining the life-affirming systems needed to support our new nation with dignity and justice for all.

The old systems were/are deadly; the new systems are life giving. Creative and cooperative components come together to create a future that we want.

What does it look like?

How do we live for one another?

I look forward to doing the hard work, the hard push, and the breathe in between the hard pushes, with all of you as we bring our new, renewed, country to birth and fresh air.

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