Several days after the US erupted over what happened to George Floyd, Jayneen found herself in tears, but not understanding why.  Why was she, here in Australia, experiencing such pain?  Here is what she has to say.

Why was my pain so deep, for a man that I didn’t know?  Why are our collective responses so emotional this time, when so many other names have swept across our screens before?

I’m thinking out loud here and wondering whether maybe it is different this time because it is riding on the coattails of a global pandemic.

For the past few months we have had the unique opportunity to share in a global human experience.  We have been feeling fear, uncertainty and courage together, as we have united to fight a common enemy that made no distinction between wealth, poverty, race, gender, age or religion.

In discussing this with my inner circle of friends and looking at the uprising of justice-themed social media posts, a common statement has emerged: ‘This makes me feel…’

I want to dig a little deeper into this.

This new wave of emotion has been overwhelming for so many.  At a time when people are already operating in an 8 or 9 /10 on the emotional instability scale… this dialogue is throwing many into some pretty heavy mental spaces.  It’s brining forward the trauma and hurt of those who have also experienced racially motivated discrimination.  It’s triggering anger, guilt, shame sorrow, fear, blame and heartache.  It is inciting violent outrage in some while provoking others to peacefully protest, or to speak their truth.  Some may also be keeping silent during this time and it is important to recognize that this is coming from somewhere too.

Some people may be feeling apathy, exhaustion or hopelessness.  They may be confused or simply be overwhelmed and not know what to say.

Take a moment to stop and check in with yourself?  How are YOU feeling about all this?  Are you processing?  Does this conflict make you feel uncomfortable?  And if so, why?

Let’s not waste this unique moment in history by turning into another hashtag-based movement where we peer pressure each other to opt in or opt out.  For real change to happen, I think we first need to process this, I mean really sit with it.

This means that it is okay to be silent and lean into the work of self-education and learning during this time.  It is okay to be vocal and take measured action.  It is okay to take a break from social media and tune out if you are feeling overwhelmed.  It is okay to fluctuate between these responses, to sit somewhere in between, or even outside these options.

What is not ok is to choose to indefinitely remain in a state of ignorance on these important topics.

Because it is NOT okay that a grown man died crying for his mother.  It is NOT okay that there were many others present who couldn’t or didn’t do anything to stop this.

IT is NOT okay that this has happened before in the USA.  In Australia.  ALL over the world.

IT is NOT okay for one person to take another’s life.  FULL STOP.

The system that allowed this to happen is not ok.  I repeat.  The system that allowed this to happen is NOT ok.

We’re all trying to make sense of this in different ways because our experiences and world views are different.  Please let’s have patience with each other as we do the inner and outer work needed to process it all and let’s lean in towards each other as we press for a solution to this problem, not away from each other.

Those who seek to control the masses start by drawing lines that divide.

Jayneen Orwa