Prophetic grief is more than crying and sighing and weeping and mourning…Prophetic grief is planting gardens of healing in the midst of raindrops of blood. Prophetic grief is declaring to the world that love is stronger than hate, that God’s grace is greater than our grief, that God’s power is greater than our pain. ~ Reverend Otis Moss, Jr.
Recently, when my wife and I were traveling to Europe for personal reasons, we often remarked how different the response was to the refugee crisis by citizens compared to the governments. In Iceland and in Germany, the public response to the crisis forced the governments to reverse course and organize an open arms response to the Syrian refugees. We watched stories of Hungarian citizens, embarrassed by their government’s hostile response to refugees seeking to get to Germany, offering warm smiles, large quantities of food, blankets and clothing. Concurrently to this, we were watching political discourse back home in the United States which focused primarily on personal attack and who to blame. The contrast was quite stark between amazing heart-filled responses like the thousands of people in Iceland offering space in their own homes to refugee families compared to the rhetoric in the U.S. and elsewhere pushing to send refugees (primarily children) back to the Middle East where support is eroding nor safe.
We currently have 60 million people displaced by war and environmental/earth disaster events. These figures do not include homeless in the U.S. currently estimated to be 3.5 million people. Ironically, there are over 18 million vacant homes in the U.S. which would be enough for each homeless person and a large number of refugees seeking refuge. The challenge of the current refugee crisis calls upon us all to offer refuge in ways that we can. As a child and young man, I often sought refuge from the violence present at that time in my life. I think of Mrs. Smith the Black grandmother from the Deep South who lived with several of her children and grandchildren in a small house. She saw the pain in my eyes and understood. She took me into their family and gave me ongoing temporary refuge which helped me endure the hate and violence in my childhood. Refuge came in the form of compassionate smiles, hugs, food, and stories.
Or the time when I was teenager and I went to NYC to escape my life for awhile and found myself in Spanish Harlem. I couldn’t speak Spanish and given my hearing impairment, I pretended to be deaf and mute. A family took me in and gave me food and shelter without involving the authorities. The joy in that family through their laughter, music, and play was salve in the midst of my need for refuge. Unknowingly they soothed my soul. It is a gift I have passed forward many times. And in my life, I know few feelings greater than being able to offer refuge to another (human or our animal friends). In offering refuge, it is in one simple way to bring healing to our unhealed ancestors.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
~ Words by Emma Lazarus on Statue of Liberty
We are in the midst of epic change and alteration in our world. These challenges are not going to disappear. I am reminded of Elise Boulding, a pioneer in peace and conflict studies, who wrote of the idea of a 200 year present. “Our Native American brothers and sisters talk about planning for the seventh generation, but I would like to extend that to ten—five generations back and five forward. The idea is something understated, beautiful and awesome in its wisdom. This simple maxim forces us to look at time in a much grander way. This is especially important in our society which produces a desire for efficiency and emphasizes the here and now. Furthermore, this grander scope of time allows us to not only reflect on what brought us to today in order to make a decision in a particular moment, but also to project into the future what the effects of this decision may be. As social beings, we humans ought to experience our decisions as relationships within the total project of humanity. “Another way of looking at this is we work to heal backward and dream forward a world that works for all. That task of healing the unhealed traumas of the past that feed our wars and conflicts of the present can only assure a true healing response when we consciously and actively work to create a world that is collaborative, sustainable, and serves the common good.
A few years ago, I was invited to give a talk at the U.N. about Healing the Trauma of War and the Spirituality of Generational Peace. As I walked inside the parts of the U.N. that are not what the public sees, it was smoke filled and everyone looked so glum. I met with people who wanted to reform the structure of the U.N. who shared with me that the permanent members of the Security Council manufacture over 90% of the weapons used in conflicts. The worldwide military expenditures in 2011 topped 2.15 trillion dollars. The question we need to ask ourselves is “what kind of future does this offer humanity?” If more and more is spent to design new weapons and pick new fights, the future can only bring more wars, destruction, suffering, and famine. Imagine what we could do with 2.15 trillion dollars to build a future world that is creative, sustainable, and peaceful.
Want to help the Social Health Care Program for Syrian Refugee Children and Families provide training and services in healing trauma and rebuilding community resiliency? Your donations are critically needed to provide services that are virtually non-existent yet are critically needed by a majority of the refugees. Please donate here.
Class: Trans-generational trauma and healing ancestor syndrome
Milwaukee, Wisconsin workshop November 14-15, 2015
This is an advanced workshop in trans-generational trauma and healing ancestor syndrome. It covers a wide range of personal and community healing issues around healing generations of trauma, its effects both personally and in community life, and how to address these issues. There will be a large amount of new material taken from the book I’m currently writing on this topic titled: History Never Ends: Healing our Personal and Collective Transgenerational Trauma. The book will be released in 2016.
Early registration is suggested. Download flyer [pdf] >
- Note this is the only workshop Myron is offering while on personal and writing hiatus. If interested in bringing this workshop to your area in 2016, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this newsletter finds you enjoying the beauty of the fall season. Blessings to you all,
After writing this newsletter, this letter to the local Madison city government written by Koua Vang came my way as inspiration. He wrote this in 2013 in response to the city threatening to fine him over $10,000 for temporarily allowing homeless people respite on his unused land. As a child he was a refugee in Laos, and came to United States to live a better life.
“… The Thai government was good but kept moving the refugees around. Finally, we came to this great country, where democracy and freedom are promised to every citizen.
I studied hard and worked hard. I became a lawyer and property owners in America….
…. The homeless people in Madison and Dane County are refugees by definition. Wherever they set up their tents, their own government threatens to punish them with fines and imprisonment. Around 2005, many Thai land owners were kind and generous and allowed the Hmong refugees (who were being forced out from the closed refugee camps) to camp on their lands. The Thai government threatened to fine and imprisonment any land owners who assist the refugees. Your warning to fine me made me feel personally related to those Thai property owners. I feel that there may be many generous property owners in America and are willing to help the homeless people, but they declined to do so because they are afraid of being fined and imprisoned for being generous.
America sometimes confuses many new refugees from other countries. America is very prosperous. It was built on the principle that every one is God children and this country was the promised land for people who were refugees in their own countries. There are so many vacant private and government buildings and lands. Yet a group of 50-100 people of citizens cannot find a place to setup their tents. Again, wherever they setup their tents, their own government threatens them and the property owners with fines and imprisonment. Something is wrong with this great country. We forgot why the Pilgrims came to America. We celebrate the fire works of 4th of July every year, but we forgot the meanings of why thousands of American colonists died to be free from the government control of the British. When a property owner cannot even offer a vacant land and regularly paying property tax land to help other human brothers and sisters, who are less fortunate than many of us, something is wrong.
Wherever these homeless people try to lay their heads on the ground and tents over their bodies, no body seem to want them to be around. We think that we are clean and without sins of human or God. We don’t want these unclean people to be around us. I think they something is wrong with them. Why are they not normal like other citizens? Why do they follow the rules of homeless shelter in our areas? We seem to ask all the right questions but no right solutions.
….I am not trying to be hero. I just want to understand why American citizens are becoming refugees in their own country and our government is using laws and regulations to punish them and those who are helping them.”