“Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony.”
(the 14th Dalai Lama)
I Went to a Conference and a Book Broke Out
So there I was, watching the replay of a trauma summit segment, and this guy, Edgar Villanueva, started saying all of these things that I regularly say. Not the usual therapisty things, but rather, what I’ve been saying for years about mutuality and respect being elements necessary to heal the multigenerational trauma that is so pervasive in the United States.
When they mentioned his book, Decolonizing Wealth, I immediately bought the Audible version. After listening to half of a chapter, I had to buy the paper copy. I knew there were numerous things I wanted to be able to chew on, reference, and use in the book that I intend to one day write about the cost that “passing for only white” has leveraged on families like mine, with ramifications for all people in the US.
If you haven’t read or listened to the book, I strongly encourage you to do so. His direct target is the philanthropic system that is his day job. However, he makes the point that I’ve been making for years: That the “virus” that has infected every sector of our country is not this or that people group, faith community or social strata, but rather, a mindset.
If you’ve been reading or listening to my blogs, this is what I have referred to as “Colonizer Think.” It’s a system of belief that invests in material success for some people at the expense of all others. It is baked into the history of this land from the 1400s forward, codified into our laws, and into the legal and governmental system itself, leaving every one of our institutions wittingly or unwittingly supporting it. It has a way of invading our families, our homes, and our minds so quietly that we often don’t even notice.
The good news is that this is something we have learned. It’s not some permanent state that we are locked into. If we learned it, we can unlearn it. I’ve been working hard at unlearning it since long before I had words for it. Despite nearly 60 years of practice, I still find it lurking in my thinking, subtly underlying my language and assumptions. I will keep unlearning.
Villanueva lays out a 7-step process for healing the divide between people, eradicating the “Colonizer Virus” of our thinking. I wanted to share it here because in truth, I believe this process is robust for all kinds of healing between people – families, couples, friends, businesses. I invite you to consider:
Seven Steps to Healing by Edgar Villanueva
(from his book Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides, second edition, copyright 2021, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, Oakland, CA)
We have to stop and feel the hurts we’ve endured.
We must apologize for the hurts we’ve caused.
We must acknowledge the wisdom of those excluded and exploited by the system, who possess exactly the perspective and wisdom needed to fix it.
We need space to share our whole selves with each other and understand we don’t have to agree in order to respect each other.
We must build whole new decision-making tables, rather than setting token places at the colonial tables as an afterthought.
We need to put all our money where our values are.
We must use money to heal where people are hurting and to stop more hurt from happening.
So much to unpack there! In fact, I’m going to take each point in seven future blogs and discuss how this process can be applied to healing on a more interpersonal level. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I encourage you to:
- Consider how “Colonizer Think” might be showing up in your life.
Are there ways that your words convey the illusion of a “hierarchy of humans,” or that unconsciously disrespects or demeans others? Don’t be afraid to look at the origins of some of the words and phrases you’ve used your whole life. I’ve bumped into things “I’ve just always said,” that turn out to have people-hostile origins I knew nothing about.
Examples include, “Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise,” the terms “Gypsy,” “gyped”, “Master Bedroom/Master Bath,” “the peanut gallery,” “the guys with the white hats” or really, any instance of using “black” to denote things that are bad, evil, dangerous, or threatening.
- Consider how Villanueva’s “7 Steps to Healing” might be applied to your relationships.
As a mental health professional, I wrap my energy around helping people pull things that are out of balance and causing pain, into a state of balance. The reasons we are out of balance are vast and varied and occur at every level. The microcosm is the macrocosm. Healing ourselves from “Colonizer Think” is good medicine at every level for every person.
Are you tired of struggling with the illusionary “hierarchy of humans?” Contact Tiffany today. Let’s find a better way.