When We Talk About Healing

What comes to mind when you think of the word “healing”? What opens in your heart as a result?

Inspired by the tropical greenery outside my window (I live in Panama), I envision a lushly regenerating Earth. I’m also seeing subtle waves of compassion awaking the leaders of our military, prison, banking, media, and electoral institutions.

I’m mostly thinking about healing from a systems standpoint, because our widespread culture of violence, be it the physical or financial kind, is perpetuated through our institutional structures.

We often pin violence on individuals, as if a few bad apples always ruin our peace, and then fail to look at how the system itself has long rotted. Healthy fruit can only grow from healthy trees.

I think of healing as a state of becoming—it’s a process of revitalization, of transformation. Imagine the ways in which we could transform our institutions and revitalize our culture:

  • Strategic military campaigns becoming strategic heart-opening campaigns
  • The prison industrial complex becoming a caring system of restorative justice
  • GDPs becoming Gross National Happiness indexes
  • Market-based education becoming consciousness-based education
  • Media profiting from violence becoming media serving human potential

These images create a comforting spaciousness in my heart. And they encourage me to remain committed to the inner-outer work of peace, however flawed I am with it.

To heal our system, we must of course willingly and consciously heal ourselves—these two processes go hand in hand. So I might as well mention that I’m writing today to transform my outrage at one of this morning’s headlines: “Stocks point up as healing process continues.” Yeppers, I thought, these markets sure are diseased. But “healing” isn’t what’s happening in this global “rebound;” the disease of profit-obsession is simply festering.

Before I knew what to do about this incredulous headline, I snapped a screen shot of it, at around 7:30am EST. When I went back to the article a few hours later, to make sure I had the right link, I noticed that the headline had changed, even as the story hadn’t. Perhaps the editors realized their snafu—or maybe they just found the word “healing” too gooey. Even likelier, they may have considered the day’s “healing” done since stock markets were up [I updated this post at 1:45pm EST: we can safely assume the latter, as the headline changed yet again to reflect that sentiment, and the story was switched to the past tense]. Here are screen shots of the morning versions EST:

7:29 version

Stocks 7am

10:20 version

Stocks 10am

I could’ve let vexing headline #1 decay inside me, putrefying me with its disease, rendering me paralyzed. Instead, I diverted my steam this morning into a far more positive energy—into seeing goodness and possibility. What choice is there when we’ve got so much to transform?

We owe our ability to stay hopeful, to plough ahead, to all those who worked courageously and tirelessly before us. For they gifted us with greater goodness and possibility (delegitimizing slavery, voting rights, civil rights, animal rights, environmental justice, and so on). They were our healing heroes.

The healing work is far from finished. It is now our turn to pick up the ball and be heroes for those who will come after us. Their very existence depends on it.