Skip to content

Muscles of Discernment

The internet-box-web-computer-pocket-phone-media-places are overwhelming places to be right now. People need different things at different times, and I don’t know where you are in the process or in your own emotional journey.

I only want to speak to the helplessness and powerlessness that is easy to believe during times of overwhelm.

I don’t know what you need to do — but I have faith that you can know.
I can’t tell you what action to take or what changes this moment and this movement will incite in your life — only you have the power to decide and actualize those things in your own life and in the lives of those whom you are in relationship with.

I believe in you. I want you to have what you need to be brave and show up to the moment — and to keep showing up. I want you to recognize that you have access to everything you need. Because we have the power to change things. So how do we help each other to show up and keep showing up, again and again?

We need to learn about what’s going on, yet the news and social media rabbitholes are overwhelming places full of people telling each other what and what not to do or how to feel or not feel. It’s a place of reacting to what someone can/should/must DO.NOW.

And because these are complex systemic problems rooted in deep historical trauma, these moments are calling us into deeper reflection about our longer-term work, and what we can be DOING.ALWAYS.

The good news is: there are a million things you could be doing right now!
The paralyzing news is: there are a million things you could be doing right now!

Plus, things keep changing!

Despair and paralysis are tempting, but your job is to figure out which next right action you are supposed to take. Responsibility = the ability to respond. That is what personal agency is, and the dominant systems of oppression would rather you forget your own agency. They are afraid of that power, our power. Exercising our power is a muscle we have to keep practicing over and over again. We may falter, and we can also keep trying.

The questions that have been helping me ground (and continue to ground)(and continue to re-ground) and move forward with integrity:

  • What is this moment calling me to do?
    • How can I respond lovingly and thoughtfully, instead of reacting from my places of shadow?
    • Where do I need to learn more and/or skill up?
    • Where can I deepen in commitment to embodying my values?
  • Where do I have power? Reflecting on the different levels of power I may have in different arenas of my life: personally, interpersonally, in community, as a civic member of a local region, organizationally in the groups I belong to, institutionally in the groups I help to shape, etc.
    • Am I taking active steps in promoting and practicing antiracism in those arenas of my life?
    • Am I taking active steps to dismantle white supremacy culture and the ways WSPY-C has been institutionalized in the spaces I move in?
    • Am I okay with the work that is (or is not) happening? Am I okay with how we are (or are not) responding to this moment? What/where am I drawn to shift?
  • If there are some arenas where I am living and acting in integrity with my values, are there other areas where I am finding restoration as well? In what areas of my life can I let creativity, play, mischief, and loving light flow right now to fuel the sites of more challenging work?
  • From these reflections, can I identify a next right action or a small set of next right actions that spark a yes in me?
    • From this clarity, then I can start to reengage with the offerings and listicles that are being shared from a place of knowing what I am looking for specifically: from voices I trust, organizations I look to for guidance and leadership, folks I trust to point me to folks they trust.

These are the muscles of discernment.

For me, discernment looked like journaling for a really long time to try and sort out my feelings and thoughts.

For you, discernment might look like talking it out with a trusted someone.

For you, discernment might mean dropping into your local community or movement space where you know others are grappling with similar questions.

For you, discernment might mean taking a long walk or marching a long march to move the feelings and synthesize in your body what needs to happen next.

I want you to trust your instincts about how you want to show up in this moment.
There are important clues there.
I also want you to be willing to interrogate your impulses with a loving and critical eye.
There are important clues to how others might react to your choices as well. Be open to learning how your actions might be out-of-step.

But also — stand up for yourself. Instead of spiraling into self-doubt or despair, believe in the power of what you can do in this moment.

When you become powerful
it is okay to take a moment
to grieve the loss of the comfort
you felt in being powerless

~Yumi Sakugawa

I believe in you.

Published inrecipes