In the summer of 2019, I was in Norway speaking at a conference and had the unexpected pleasure of experiencing Norway’s independence day in Oslo. It was stunning for me, like witnessing the national holiday of some ethereal and magical land, not of this earth. People were dressed in the clothing of centuries past, celebrating, eating, and enjoying one another.
I witnessed a national pride and unity in every person, child, and home that I had never seen… much less experienced. It was like watching a happy family, when my own is broken and divorced. It was beautiful, and my heart broke at the same time.
On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass spoke on America’s Independence Day: “I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.”
I’m regularly embarrassed by our leadership, and even with my great privilege of being a white American citizen, I regularly feel misrepresented and unrepresented. I’m inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and horrified by the increasing visibility of explicit and violent racism. Since this holiday has a mixed history, the contrast and cognitive dissonance I feel today makes sense. I honor the conflict in me.
As a nation, we are like a broken and tormented family with hidden abuse, outcast members, and at least two sides that fight every time we gather. It’s painful to live here. It’s difficult to celebrate as one nation, either our tarnished history or our possible futures.
In some ways, I envy the Norwegian homogeneity, the ease of their belonging. As a culture, they have had the same ancestry, the same struggles, the same values, the same history. So much connects them as a people. I long for that simplicity, that togetherness.
I also recognize that our diversity makes the U.S. – us – powerful. The same thing that makes it nearly impossible for us to band together as one nation, is also our superpower.
In so much of my work, this shows up: our unconsciousness holds the promise of our greatness, because that is where our consciousness will create the most change. Contrast in all aspects of our lives shows us where we have room to grow, deepen, get more free. For all the sweetness of Norway’s culture, its homogeneity is a limitation as well. America is a place where explosive change can happen frequently and easily – for better and for worse. And the racial tension in this country may end up leading to an even stronger force for progress and healing if we choose to evolve together.
Our nation’s history was born on the foundation of freedom, resisting oppression and creating new paradigms. Liberation that sparks flames of change affecting the entire world.
There’s nothing more on brand for me than that.
Our cultural heritage includes the ancestry of not only being oppressed, but being oppressors. These are the ghosts that haunt us as a country. It’s time to have an exorcism.
This begins inside. The bondage of our past is still present – and we can choose to be the oppressor or the liberator. Moment to moment. Day to day.
I asked my brilliant team for their addition to this piece and here is what they said:
No more white saviors.
No more POC victims.
Say yes to our human spiritual evolution.
Let’s do this together – we all need to be here for each other.
Let us honor each other and our shared future by unlearning the lies of the past so we can all move forward with clear consciousness toward an inclusive future, knowing our healing liberates our ancestors and restores the promise of America.
Enjoy the fireworks.
Find a sense of belonging – you deserve it.
Claim the unity that underlies every living entity on the planet.
And use today to stand for the essence of our origins:
Fight for freedom.
Set boundaries against oppressors.
Create the new paradigm.
And as you do so, celebrate the freedom you have found in your life so far, and vision what it means to get more free.
Underneath the battle, I know we are all here looking for love, longing for love, and actually loving – and that love will take us home.
Thanks to Elena Brower for friendship, inspiration, and the call to action – as a result of our blooming collaboration, I will be donating 25% of all MMM proceeds to the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you or someone you know needs support around mastering money, send them my way.