As we enter 2021 – in a world in illness and chaos, I am committing to write a monthly blog for therapists.
I begin this year with a call to renew our sense of purpose as therapists and educators. I am inspired by the thoughts of my mentor, Dr. Sue Johnson. Her recent acknowledgement that the word educate comes from the Latin educere, meaning to “lead out,” highlights the role and responsibility I have as an educator and a therapist to be a force for change in the world.
As I embark on a new year of seeking to improve my EFT therapy and training, I want to challenge myself and all of you to renew your sense of purpose as leaders for compassionate change in the world.
Taking a second look at the word education, I learned that this word has two different Latin roots. Craft (1984) noted that while educere means “to lead out,” the other root – educare — means “to train or to mold.” The meaning of educare appears to imply a top-down didactic presentation of knowledge, whereas educare, Bass and Good (2004) suggest, implies preparing learners to create solutions to problems yet unknown, by preparing them to question, to think, and to create. This distinction in meaning challenges me as I re-examine my purpose for leading compassionate change in a diverse world in chaos.
As a therapist, supervisor and trainer of an experiential model of therapy that is built on bottom-up, emotionally engaged learning, my purpose to foster change towards compassion, connection, collaboration requires two added elements. I am discovering that in order to stay the course of fostering these qualities, it takes
clarity of commitment and fierce determination
resilience and flexibility to embrace diversity and difference.
The world in chaos
2020 and the beginning of 2021 are filled with factiousness and chaos. Stunning, startling and appalling fail to capture the first week of January 2021. While the world is in the grips of the pandemic, it also shudders in the aftermath of the white supremacist insurrection on the US capitol. The US and the world reel in chaos that almost overshadows the joy of having the first black man and the first Jewish man elected to the US Senate by the state of Georgia – giving the president-elect the possibility of creating compassionate change, interracially, economically and environmentally.
The contrast of peaceful black protestors and BLM activists being arrested and treated extremely more aggressively than white rioters is egregious! The ongoing deaths of black persons killed by police and the disappointing recent news that no charges were laid in yet another racist shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, are lost in the torrent of violent news.
Sources of hope and compassionate change in the world
We have reason to mobilize as leaders for hope and optimism. We can and must affirm our purpose to foster collaboration, compassion and connection!
The resilience and love of my Black and brown brothers and sisters, seen so clearly in 2020, through the lives of leaders like John Lewis, Cornel West, and Stacey Abrams, and the families of victims of racist shootings and killings like that of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake, Ahmed Arbury and on and on and on, call me to choose to renew my sense of purpose as a leader for compassionate change in the world. Seeing my Black and brown brothers and sisters thriving in spite of racial aggressions and innumerable incidents of unfairness, I am pulled to step out of my selfish concerns and fears and renew my intent to embrace my human obligation to be loving – to recognize and celebrate diversity and to take care of others and our environment.
During the rioting on January 6, the ICEEFT trainer community happened to be meeting online to affirm our hopes and aspirations for 2021. Simultaneously, as US president-elect Joe Biden spoke words of reason and hopefulness to the American people, the virtual community of EFT trainers were comforted and inspired towards collaboration and restoration, from the words and presence of Dr. Sue Johnson. We listened to each other’s voices of trust that brighter days are ahead. We joined in acknowledging that our momentum for change is rooted in our connectedness and reliance upon each other as well as our clarity of purpose and determination.
Gabby Giffords, a US Senator until she was wounded 10 years ago in a near-fatal shooting, wrote a recent op-ed in the New York Times about determination and resilience. She quotes Abraham Lincoln, “Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life…. stick to your purpose… lift up the weak and give strength to the doubtful. Together, our resolve and determination will be fuel for years to come.” Giffords, having regained her lost capacities to walk and to speak, embodies determination and resilience and now heads an organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Her determination and resilience is another beacon of hope for me to renew my purpose for to lead out in building collaboration, compassion and connection.
The past year has been a difficult one for all of us – educators, therapists, all citizens of the world! Divisiveness and differences are not as strong as love and respect. We need one another. Let us keep caring for each other.
Only when I recognize how you need me and I need you, can I realistically see the foreshadowing of hope for peaceful co-existence and collaboration in 2021. Only then can I extend my own learning together with others of different cultures, genders, sexual orientations, religious values and so on.
In different ways, both Mahatma Gandhi and John Bowlby have said this: We mirror the world.
Bass, R. V. & Good, J. R. (2004). Educare and Educere: Is a Balance Possible in the Educational System? The Educational Forum (68), 161-168.
Craft, M. 1984. Education for diversity. In Education and cultural pluralism, ed. M. Craft, 5–26. London and Philadelphia: Falmer Press.