peace center

rage bubbles over when it's crowded in. I've felt so much constriction of pain, short-sighted interventions trying to mop up the overflow of fear, hurt, anger. we need more spaces for healing, more spaciousness in general around the pain.

I'm living in Atlanta in the summer of 2020 right now, and even as I exist here in this place and time, I can sense the turning point of history and it gives me a sense of spiritual motion sickness. I have no idea where we will be a year from now. But 2020 is about looking at where we've been, and hoping that deep looking can lead us to some kind of clarity, some kind of wisdom.

Secoriea Turner was one of three people gunned down on University Ave on the 4th of July. Rayshard Brooks Peace Center has been torn down in response, last night I was up late into the night feeling my stomach in knots, talking with friends who watched our sacred spaces of grieving, our altars thrown into trash bags. Racial injustice, the space we need for healing the deep wounds that systemic racism has left in our collective's big and transformative spaciousness that's needed. But it feels right now like the call for "order" will win out for now over the call for "peace".

In Healing Resistence: A Radically Different Response to Harm by Kazu Haga he calls this "negative peace". The quiet that comes from forcing those suffering back into silence. For those in power, it feels like a solution, and for those outside power, it's a deepening of trauma.

Right now political leaders have a gunned down 8 year old to point to, gunned down near the Peace Center for their responses that are about to escalate to squash the demonstrations, the non-violent and assertive calls for peace, true peace, a peace planted in justice. Kazu Haga is a Kingian Nonviolence trainer, trainer in restorative justice, and mindfulness.

I'm in agony when I think of the inner chaos bubbling over into violence, violence that ends lives while the sky's lit up with fireworks, celebrating another year of American independence. Scapegoats exist because killing them is easier than atoning for systems that have existed eroding our collective soul for hundreds of years.

I'm noticing how stories are being told right now. Mayor Bottoms is weaving a weary and sympathetic tale of wanting justice, wanting peaceful protest, but willingness to sacrifice the movement in the wake of the death of an 8-year-old baby. Her tone is "enough is enough!" I'm noticing that news articles say "Saturday night" and avoid mentioning the 4th of July. After all these years working in brand management, I'm seeing clear as day protestors being painted with broad enough strokes to bleed "peace protestor" into "baby killer" but the 4th of July is being treated cautiously. Don't wanna hurt it's image. People need fun right now, amiright? It was Saturday, a Saturday night. Don't want to say it was the 4th of July... that may paint a weird picture.

The optics problems that freedom fighters will always have in the midst of the fighting is an optics problem that only abates with time. Those who control the stories do so much to control our eyes.

I don't feel like I have to defend movement in Atlanta right now. If anyone believes those marching in the Movement for Black lives in Atlanta isn't in unfathomable grief over the death of a 8 year old Black girl, they are choosing to believe that. They are consuming stories that make that even feel possible to them. We do not get to bow our heads and stop the fight to honor state-ordained grieving for this child. We cannot confuse order with peace.

Transformative justice fucking hurts as a process because it tells you your scapegoats are not gonna save you from future hurt. That the urgency felt isn't gonna get us anywhere any faster. That urgency isn't the same as caring. This process is hard and long and winding. And "justice" isn't placing the "right" people in cages because putting people in cages...doesn't change the forces that pushed them there. Do I want to create meaning here? Does my grief ask to be contained into a neat story where the assholes who shot up University Ave are brought to "justice". Yep, absolutely. I long for that simplicity. But this work isn't simple. Justice demands we acknowledge our interconnections. Our integrity means we don't just throw some people away. As long as we accept the belief that some people deserve to die, that will always lead to more death. Everyone deserves healing. I believe that. I challenge myself with that belief everyday. It is my practice to try to embody that belief. And it's fucking hard. I'm in grief. I'm in mourning. I'm in the practice of loving abundantly when all I wanna do is constrict and hold the world at a distance.