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Discharging on the Environment

 I counseled on the environment today! Not from a prompt, not from a direction, but fully on my own, of my own accord!

It was my weekly Thursday morning mini-session, and I was trying to avoid my tendency toward “these white women I work with bother me,” which often leaves me feeling stuck. As I scanned my brain for what really gets under my skin1 about it all, I spotted white privilege. That led me to thinking about the session I got from Diane Shisk2 this past weekend at the International Young Adult Conference.

The class topic was the environment, with a heavy focus on racism. I knew from past workshops that this topic is usually not met with ease or enthusiasm. Before people can get to their feelings about the state of the environment, they usually have to trudge through feelings of not wanting to look at it, thinking it won’t make a difference to look at it, or being stupid and not important enough to look at. This is a testament to how disconnected we have gotten from the environment, as well as the hopelessness that keeps us there.

Diane wanted to do a demonstration with someone from the United States who had seen firsthand the effect of racism on the environment—and no one was raising their hand. So I volunteered.

I started telling how I‘d decided to come up for the session, and when I got to the part where Diane had asked for someone who lived in “one of these toxic dumping grounds,” my heart just broke. I didn’t even get the rest of the sentence out. It all came crashing down on me, in one fell swoop,3 in the brilliant way that our minds and hearts work. Toxic dumping grounds.

I pictured this beautiful earth, I pictured huge human-made machines, and I started to shake. I pictured all the production happening around the world. I pictured the sludge. The fumes. The stench. The people. I pictured the air and the trapped feeling that “this is life,” and the shaking turned to sobbing. What a terrible predicament we are in! Yes, we. Then all of a sudden, like when a thick fog starts to lift, I could picture how powerful we all are. All we have to do is allow ourselves to feel.

One suggestion Diane made about working on this topic was to find a personal connection. Sometimes it’s too hard to just dive in; the hopelessness takes over, and there’s a lot of numbness. So it helps to find a personal connection to the environment—whether it’s an animal, a species, or something related to one of our constituencies—and start there. She also said that eventually we are going to have to give up our powerlessness, because we have some big things to do.

Before the demonstration we had a mini-session, and my counselor pointed out that my brain actually could think about this topic. That was hugely encouraging! So often we feel like we are unable to think about big, hard topics, but that’s just a feeling. It’s also a place where we can help each other. It helps to have another person outside of our distress notice things that we can’t from inside of it and remind us of our goodness.

I already feel more hopeful about working on the environment, and hopeful that we can figure out something to do about it. So hopeful that I knew I needed to share this “new and good” with you, without wondering whether or not it was important. We could all use a little encouragement, a little hopefulness, and I hope that you can find some in this today. I can’t wait to see what we do.

Ani Darcey

Los Angeles, California, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of young adults.


1 "Gets under my skin" means bothers me.
2 Diane Shisk is the Alternate International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Communities.
3 "In one fell swoop" means suddenly, all at one time.

 


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00