Lately I’ve been writing a different blog post than what I’ve published in my book because I wanted to share something more top of mind than something I wrote a year ago.
However, when I read what I wrote for Thursday’s Full Moon in Aquarius I thought it was extremely current given the current state of affairs in the U.S. White supremacy is on the rise and many people’s lives are at stake in too many ways to mention without me going off on a long(er) rant that isn’t the focus of this blog.
I’m currently traveling in Budapest. It’s my first time here and one of the “musts” on my list was going to the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. There’s also a museum that has a Holocaust exhibit as about 20 percent of Jews killed in the Holocaust were Hungarian. Outside the synagogue, there’s a beautiful memorial garden where thousands and thousands of people who are Jewish were detained during WWII. Many died of the conditions they were in.
This sounds familiar. While we’re hopefully far away from something like the Holocaust, there are a lot of similarities between the lead up to that atrocity and what we’re seeing in the U.S. And that’s terrifying.
All humans have the same basic needs: water, food, sleep, and security, among a few others. As humans, we have the tendency to think that every kind of living thing possesses a unique essence: a mysterious inner quality that makes it a member of that kind. These essences come with hierarchy, which is how we’ve generally decided that killing and eating animals is morally acceptable, but cannibalism is morally apprehensible, for example. When we dislike another human, we sometimes remove this “essence” from them to feel justified in our ill thoughts toward them and to feel superior.
There are some people in the world who willingly strip the humanity of entire groups of people and cultures to feel superior to these groups of people. These people, fascists, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, etc. are not the people we will be thinking about in the exercise below; those who wittingly remove the humanity from entire groups of people do not deserve our energy or reflection in our healing process.
This Full Moon, take some time to reflect on how you look at other people. It’s important that we can see the humanity in others just as it is important that we can see the humanity in ourselves. Finding this humanity will make the rift between Us and Them smaller, and this compassion is essential for our growth as humans and for society as a whole.
- Who do you dehumanize or see as less than human?
- What attributes do you assign to them to remove their humanity (e.g. giving them a nickname that equates them to an animal or something else that’s is deemed less than human)?
- What is this person’s story?
- Did this person wrong you in some way? Or were you raised to think this way?
- What needs does this person have and are they like any of your needs?
- Why do you think you dehumanize them?
- What are the circumstances behind their actions toward you?
- Do they deserve to be thought of as less than human? If this person is someone who harmed you, this exercise is not a way to validate their actions or to give them an excuse for what they did. Some people deserve to be kept at a distance and it’s okay for our defense mechanisms to help us with that. But for the people who didn’t harm you, can you move past what you feel is wrong and see them as human?
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