How discomfort fuels vocal expression and real-life change

Morgan Kelley, Contributing Writer

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Just last week there was media coverage of people yelling out, risking prison time for political dissent at conformation meetings for supreme court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

What urges someone to risk time and potential bodily harm in order to make their voices heard? I think it is people who feel their basic human rights and safety are at stake of being violated.

People attempting to disrupt these meetings have been termed “loud-mouths” for speaking up for their right to bodily autonomy. I think this kind of labeling is reducing humans, specifically women to their biology; specifically reducing women to their reproductive capacity and disregarding the lived experiences of these individuals.

We as humans are holistic beings who combine and express variations of both biology and culture. We are far too complex to be reduced to cultural labels or biological functions.

That is why it is important to recognize and act on the subtle nuances of our American culture; to challenge claims of power and control.
When women whose reproductive rights and safety are at stake, protest a man who says birth control is equivalent to abortion are ignored, it sends a clear signal about what our government and society values.

These women are dismissed and ignored and yet they persist despite potential danger and harm because they know what is at stake; a potential regression to an era of unsafe abortion and unnecessary deaths.

So how do we have empathy for the so called “monsters” of our society? Metaphorical monsters that are our fellow human beings who continue to plague and inflict harm on individuals and our species as a whole.

First, I think we should explore what our society is founded on; this idea that we must be productive citizens who adhere to a preconceived set of rules, but what does it mean to be productive and who defines that?

Is productivity worth the cost of ignoring our well-being and safety? Why do we as a culture feel like we must use our time in a specific way or otherwise be termed “lazy” or “unproductive”? If we as a culture value making conscious effort to take care of ourselves and our fellow human beings, where would that take us?

It is easy to become numb to the sensitivities and bodily sensations that we as humans experience moment to moment because there is a lot of real pain and suffering in our world, but if we took the time to consciously cultivate mindful awareness through meditation and yoga practices, we might become more peaceful as individuals and a species as a whole.

This in no way implies a forced complacency, taking time for self-care, to consciously relax and tune in with ourselves is in no way an escape for taking conscious action in this physical realm.

I am inviting you to visualize a new way of being, where humans are taught to value empathy, quiet self-reflection, active listening and are taught ways to consciously relax our physical bodies and mental capacities. Spend a few moments of solitude with your breath and be interested and aware of the information and knowledge your body gifts you.

Just this week I was labeled as “heated” for passionately expressing my desire and right to autonomy, well-being and a sense of basic trust in my government and society. The idea that we as individuals and a culture can actively be doing things differently is what stokes the fire of my spirit.
I was labeled heated as a way to attack me rather than my argument, but through my active meditation and mindfulness practice, I was able to see this description in a positive light. Heat is a form of energy and energy allows us to make choices and change.

This means my spirit and passion are shining through clearly and that they contain the internal and external energy to do better. I think more people should get heated about their passions and deeply sensed ways of knowing.

I think a lot of people including myself express this worry of offending people, but honestly, I think you have to already possess a basic form of empathy to express this sentiment to begin with because there are many people in our society who have very egocentric views of what our world should look like, which causes them to express their agency in harmful ways.

I use the example of being deemed “heated” to elaborate that I in no way said anything disrespectful, I did not target any specific individual, I merely let the passion of my spirit express itself in an energetically powerful way.

Generally, I do not think that people intend to cause harm (though in some cases they clearly do) I think that sometimes people are unconscious or unaware of how vastly complex humans are as a species and act in very self-interested ways.

There is nothing inherently wrong in gently taking care of yourself and doing what is best for you personally, but if this self-care turns into self-absorption, a clinging to our identities and personalities, a disregard for the other humans we share this space with then we may find ourselves on a slippery slope.  

What I am calling for is wider access to knowledge, information, and resources so that people may have equal opportunities to make informed decisions about themselves and about how they want to enact their agency in this modern, technologically driven world.  

Morgan is a senior Anthropology major, gender studies minor and a Yoga/meditation instructor at Bloomsburg University.