First Essay of 2021: Nothing about People is a Binary

Human beings are complex. We can both criticize each other and yet still love each other; the criticism does not mean our love is false, and yet society teaches us thus. This binary thinking is killing us.

Our society teaches us that everything is a binary: either we are Black or White, Man or Woman, Good or Evil, Racist or Not Racist, Disabled or not Disabled, Gay or Not Gay, etc… This is a lie we must continue to unlearn. I think it is absolutely crucial if we are ever to heal.

I can both recognize that I was neglected at times as a young child by my parents — whether due to their own trauma or the scarcity of time from making ends meet — BUT I can also recognize what I learned from them and be thankful that they provided for me enough that I survived childhood.

I can both recognize that Chaplain friend hurt me tremendously many times, but also recognize that I still love them and am grateful for what they taught me that helped me. Trauma may have informed some of their actions, maybe pride too, but yet they also taught me much about healing, about seeing the truth within my gifts, about the different ways we can be present. That is also valid as much as the pain from the harm done.

I can both recognize that I can cause harm, fail to understand, and need to do better. How I will and must continue to self-reflect and navigate ways of healing, apology, and reconciliation. And yet still honor the knowledge, gifts, and intuition I hold at the moment.

Some may think I wrote this in a binary manner but it is not a binary. IT IS A WEB. Where we land in that web of gratitude and other complex emotions may change by the hour or day. All are valid.

I can be grateful for all the gifts of the Earth, for all living things, for what they provide for me, but still recognize that there are creatures on the planet that could do me harm — yet even then, that harm is still dependent on me entering into their domain.

We are interdependent. We are not independent and individuals unmoored by any social consequences or impact to the Earth or each other. That’s not how society works, nor is it even how we evolved.

We did not evolve through competition. That’s something capitalism tried to instill into us. We evolved through cooperation. Even then that doesn’t deny competition played a role in major historical events, but despite that, vast majority of humanity’s survival was cooperation.

How does liberation come about? How does healing collectively? How does building up each other and discovering new technology or new worlds out in space happen? Through cooperation.

Is this something y’all can come to accept? To learn how to better navigate with me? But also do so in a way that keeps our boundaries?

Because as much as we can acknowledge all of the above, we do not have to keep people in our lives who continue to cause us harm, who continue to not self-reflect or show a willingness to do better toward us. Their path toward healing can still happen, but we do not have to be involved.

Acknowledging all of the above does not mean we must partake at all times, or that we should assist in any way at all. Sometimes paths diverge in the woods, and those paths might even run parallel to each other for awhile, and that’s valid and okay.

Does that mean we leave these people out of our lives forever? No, that is more binary thinking. Instead, we must take stock of our boundaries, and ask the question: does it still assist us? If it doesn’t, we change it. If it does, we maintain.

Notice how I use the word “assist” and not the typical word “serve.” We use terms that assert dominance so often, but that also is mired in the lie that we ought to dominate others and the Earth in order to be seen as valid and worthwhile person. No, dominance doesn’t save anyone.

Being the “savior” or “hero” doesn’t actually save anyone. That too is a lie told to us by our ableist, white supremacist, colonial, patriarchal capitalist society. We are not saviors or heros. We are people in relationship with one another and the Earth; we are interdependent on each other and the Earth, and we are assisting one another, engaging in reciprocation whether or not we are mindful of it.

Reciprocation and responsibility is the key to relationships, and as much as respect is a component of both, respect ceases the moment we fail to reciprocate and be accountable to one another and ourselves.

So we ask, does me engaging in this relationship with this particular person assist me? I cannot know if it assists them unless they tell me, but asking them can help me assess the full picture as it’s not just my needs that need met. For the relationship to find its health, reciprocity is needed too.

Throughout all this process, gratitude is also needed, but gratitude cannot and must not be the end. It is only the beginning; it is the acknowledgement of what assisted and helped us in our journey, but it cannot dig into what did not assist or help as that is not its purpose.

We treat mindfulness and gratitude as if it will heal us from trauma. As if it is the end of all and will cease the pain. It won’t; it can’t. That’s not its purpose. It is the start of the journey of healing, but that journey requires work, requires us reaching out for aid within our interdependent web, requires us to to learn how to accept affirmations and gifts from others, and requires us to self-reflect and learn how to grow to be better.

Mindfulness isn’t enough to achieve these complex webs of growth, but it can help us navigate it.

We need to learn how to accept love from others; we need to learn how to accept gratitude and affirmations from others; we need to learn the art or reciprocity and the art of holding ourselves responsible; we need to learn how to remind others of their responsibility to be accountable to themselves and others in a way that does not add to the harm.

Can y’all do this with me this year? Can we strive toward these truths?

Can we acknowledge the trauma inherent within ourselves and our society and our Earth?

Yet also acknowledge all to which we are grateful?

Yet also acknowledge and affirm those that taught us and helped us grow?

Yet also acknowledge and affirm the gifts and knowledge we hold but how that is limited, and we still need to grow and be better?

Will this journey be part of our collective consciousness? Can it? Is it not one aspect of the truth that will liberate us?

Thanks for reading. May this help you in return. Comment thoughts so that I may grow through your knowledge and gifts in reciprocation to what I have offered here to you.

By Aibird

Open the door, step inside. Here you find a forest, teeming with animals and birds, which sweeps up the sides of snow-capped mountains. Here in the small pocket of beauty, one finds the essence of my soul. A writer at heart, I delve deep into the finer details of humanity's spirit, and seek to share with others what gems I uncover. I find life exciting and full of interesting surprises, and despite the great pain that often confronts me, I persevere with the joy in my heart still bubbling, and the light of my soul still aflame. There is a time and a place to introspect one's self, but often enough it is best to not look back in regret, but leap forward in the present toward the achievement of one's deepest dreams. I am a wanderer. An explorer. One place cannot contain me for long, but to my friends and family, I remain loyal, for love is not bound by time nor place. Once cultivated and nourished continuously, it binds people together on a journey through the unknown reaches of life.

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