I have recently learned I am an empath. I feel the weight of the world-both joy and pain-intensely. This helps me understand why I am struggling in a world that doesn’t like to feel. I hear people worrying about people who are falling apart right now, and we definitely should be checking on them and sitting with them, but I don’t think we are the ones to worry about the most. I am most worried about the unfeeling friends.
After my cry for help on Friday, and Jonathan answered my call and spoke truth to me, the next day I started seeing our President in a new way. This is not to excuse his cruelty. It is inexcusable, and must be stopped. But I know he has gone through childhood trauma. This is the empath in me feeling for a man who is so broken and has not gotten what he needed, and still isn’t getting what he needs. This trauma has left him without any ability to feel outside of himself. In Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, we see the makings of childhood abuse through that philosophy-and it is America’s way of life. This is most likely why Trump appeals to so many. He is not an island. Childhood trauma, well, trauma in general, should be on our radar now. We’ve been living our lives by measuring our worth by what we produce, not who we are as humans. This has affected our mental health in tragic ways. It is leaving us with no empathy for our neighbor, because we are trying to conquer our neighbor–instead of using our gifts to lift our neighbor out of the depths. I am hearing Grumpy Bear from Care-a-Lot looking at the Caring Meter and shouting, “The Caring Meter is down!”
The Care Bears are some of my greatest teachers when it comes to feelings. I want to share how they have guided me, and why I believe they are talking to us now through modern day prophets.
Care Bears were my favorite growing up. They still are. They were a source of comfort for me when life was un”bear”ably hard for my young self. I slept with a whole pile of Care Bears bears, and my light was on every night. I had a lot of fears. I also had a Care Bear record that would play lullaby music for me. I remember Bedtime Bear singing this to me: Snuggle up, and sleep tight, there’s a Care Bear to watch you. All the noise is at night are the moon and the stars. I also imagined Heaven to be a lot like Care-a-Lot. Sliding on rainbows is something I am planning on doing one day-my dream .
I still remember this like yesterday. They were grounding for me then, and they are grounding for me now.
I loved the Care Bears didn’t avoid the pain of life, because I felt deep pain. They would talk to the children they were sent to care for about their feelings. They stayed by their side and made them feel safe. The oppressor they were near also, but differently. They kept the one who was harmed separate from the one causing harm, until there was complete healing. I have written this before, but I feel it needs to be said again. When the one causing harm was not being reached by normal methods, the bears called on all the Care Bears, with all of their unique gifts (displayed on their bellies), to come together and use those unique gifts in a Care Bear Stare to cast out the principality that had overtaken the person. It took everyone; not just a few-all. Later they got even more help when they called on the Cousins. The Cousins didn’t Stare, they Called. The more that come together to fight for caring, with all of our differences (not despite our differences, but because of our differences), the better the chance we have to free the oppressed and the oppressor to live as one. That truly is the vision for the Garden of God.
But even when I think of Trump, and the lack of empathy that plagues our nation, I arrive at this: the oppressor isn’t the biggest threat to our socity. Trump is a threat because he holds the highest office, and we must vote him out, and address the principality that created him. But the principality that created him are not in the majority, it was allowed free reign by those wanting to remain neutral. Those who don’t want to have to care about the problems because it is either too much, or too uncomfortable. But I am here to say that caring deeply about people is the only way to find life.
Reading Ibram X. Kendi’s “Hot to Be an Antiracist” is giving me language I have needed to help explain why we need to start using feeling language, in addition to our academic language. What I mean is knowing what the problem is, but not feeling it, will land us in the same unsafe space. The example he gave was when he was in grade school and so tired of all the language in class and chapel that dehumanized him. He decided one day in chapel he would not leave the pew and return to class. This makes his teacher angry, and punishment follows. I love the idea he presents of how different this situation would have been for his emotional health, and the teacher’s learning, if she had asked: What is wrong?
That is a caring question. That is a question that opens up the avenue to healing and learning. More curiosity and less punishing. We absolutely still need to learn the definitions and what is happening to course correct, but we need to go to the emotional depths too. Punishment is an uncreative answer to our problems. Not saying we can avoid it completely, but we don’t need to be the most highly incarcerated nation in the world with for-profit prisons and under-funded schools are the pipeline to filling those prisons.
If we want the caring meter to go back up, we have to become fully human. This means we have to feel some uncomfortable feelings. It is okay. Feelings are good teachers. Fear cannot rule our hearts. People are dying because of fear. Love is creative. Love is the only way to truly feel alive. Love keeps us open to learning and hearing our friends when they are hurt. Our individualism and lack of friendship has made this pandemic unbearably hard. Lets carry the cross together. This is the way the Care Bears faced the most impossible situations.
Here’s my baby Bedtime Bear. Kimberlyn, 2006