One of my favorite professors at Barnard was my Political Theory Professor, Professor Dennis Dalton.  HE WAS AMAZING!!!  He would teach in the first person, becoming Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Hitler, whomever he was teaching, to convey their thoughts and perspectives as best he knew how.  I actually got chicken skin and started crying as I sat in on his Gandhi lecture.  How often does that happen in a college class???


As a Gandhi scholar, he focused much of his passion on the power and brilliance of the non-violent movements.  Ultimately, this focused him on this question; “Does the end justify the means?”  In his case, he was highlighting the work of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and saying they force us to ask ourselves, “Can we end violence with violence?”


While I generally follow my grandmother’s advice and don’t allow myself to be put into a box, for the purposes of this blog, I will say, my primary label is that of healer.  I have decades of practice connecting with people and supporting them to recover parts of themselves they forgot existed due to a painful experience.  I seem to have a sort of authenticity sixth sense that yearns to connect people to their power.  For some this is thrilling, and for others it is quite annoying J.


As I speak with people who label themselves primarily as activists, I often feel pain inside them.  I feel rage.  I feel war.  I feel the anxiety that others are after them and sometimes a desire to see the blood of the other.  When I feel this in them, my first instinct is to go to them and help them heal their wounds.  There is something inside of me that stops and assesses them as individuals before I feel ready to charge ahead.  I wonder, “Do they know they have this pain?  Do they want to heal it?  Do they see their rage?  What pain will they inflict if they win?”


I believe this instinct of mine very much marries to the message from Professor Dalton.  In his historical perspective, he spoke of leaders who would “fight” for peace, win and then dominate with bloodshed.  In my case, I simply do not see how we can bring about true and lasting change without healing.  If what we want is a peaceful world, then don’t we need to do the work inside ourselves to learn what peace feels like?  How can we work together in a peaceful way if the sensation of it still eludes us?


At times when I bring this perspective to others, they argue with my instincts and assert that it would take too long to bring about change if we wait for everyone to heal.  The waiting is a misconception.  I am in no way suggesting we wait.  I am certainly not waiting!  I am suggesting that we heal and work toward change simultaneously.  I am saying that if we are not healing as we work for change, then the possibility of our pain running the show becomes too great.  And when our pain is running the show, we tempt the possibility of inflicting that pain onto others.


Perhaps you have thought this way before.  Perhaps this is the first time you have thought this way.  But I ask you to ponder for a second, how courageous are we activists?  Are we courageous enough to walk into our own shadows and heal our wounds?  Are we courageous enough to believe that working with an open heart could bring about a new way?  Or do we want to tempt the possibility that as we fight for change we are indeed inflicting as much pain on others as we have experienced ourselves?


The choice is clear for me because my instincts are too strong toward healing for me not to work this way.  So if you see me as an activist ally and all of a sudden I seem to be up to something that doesn’t match with what you expect, you can know that I am feeling into the wounds and asking for healing.  If you want to join me, please do!

About the author

Community.Relationship.Intimacy.Sex.Birth and so much more. Do you know how to find yourself and the space between you and another? Nekole can help you find your way. One small warning....Nekole has been known to change lives!