fragility and strength are not opposites


There is little denying that the world and the political landscape is in serious upheaval.

You do not need to be told this to know it.

You are a feeling, breathing human with a heart and a conscience. You know the world is in pain just by being witness to it.

How do we navigate a world where young men are shot down in the streets for the color of their skin? Where police officers are gunned down in retaliation, as if that will solve any injustices? Where complete devastation happens in a nightclub simply because the people inside are different for whom they love? How do we live in an era where it is even possible to have hate speech broadcast so freely and get parroted with such support?

This is 2016, for fuck's sake. Why are racial aggression and blatant sexism and hate crimes and speech still happening?

I don't have any answers.

The world feels unwieldy to me right now and has for months.

I feel helpless and uncertain of how love will triumph in the face of fear, but I so deeply hope that we can unite together to make it so.

What is wonderful is in the midst of the confusion, the violence, and the grief, I have also witnessed an incredible outpouring of heartfelt messages to counter the hate.

Meanwhile, I have wanted to contribute to that outpouring, but have found myself oddly silent.

Not because I want to be.

How many messages to you have a I started and stopped to assure you that this world is good and that your voice matters? To plead and hope that we will get through this together.

Too many to count. I start, I stop, and each one remains unfinished and unsent.

I have also internally berated myself for my silence. "Don't you know the surest way to make change is to speak up for it? Don't you realize that your lack of contribution supports the very outcome you want to counter?"

Weeks ago, I saw a photo from a #BlackLivesMatter protest, in which a banner proclaimed, "Silence is violence."

The words have haunted me since, because I have known the need to stand up with voice and conviction and have instead cowered in the face of opposition.

It is not my usual stance to be silent, but I have been paralyzed, my communication cut short from my brain to my mouth.

In my heart, I feel like doing nothing is not an option. But I have felt somehow unable to coherently transmit what weighs deeply on my heart.

I feel fragile.

But you know what?

Just because you are fragile does not also mean you are not also strong.

The work of being centered in heart and purpose is certain to make you feel thin-skinned.

Deep introspection and self-knowledge shows you that other people are not so different from yourself, despite how they may appear.

You see their fear, you feel their pain and you want to be the salve that eases their suffering.

Yes, maybe you are fragile too. Each time you witness the people and this earth get wounded, it cracks you open. Again and again and again.

Despite that pain, I say, let it.

Let yourself be cracked open, because you always have the capacity to piece yourself together each time.

And when you feel compassion for others, extend that compassion to yourself too.

Being silent won't help, but neither will tearing yourself down about it.

Fragility and strength are not opposites.

In fact, it is precisely because you are fragile that you are strong enough to help hold the world and to do your damnedest to try heal it.

The weakest are those who do not let the world touch them, for when they do finally break, they do not have the knowledge to pull themselves upright for the sake of something bigger and purer than just themselves.

You have to have incredible bravery to let yourself be broken open and immense strength to continually put yourself together knowing that it will happen again.

Do I know for certain that your words and our unity have the power to make positive change?

No, I don't.

But we must try.

Perhaps you feel it is taboo to be too outspoken or political, but at this point, we cannot afford not to be.

I do not know for a certainty that tomorrow will be brighter than today, but I have to trust that the quietest of our chants, drawn collectively together, will be the cacophony of voices that reverberate around the world and shape our future.


Iris Rankin

Soulful questioner, exuberant organizer, here to find the balance between discipline and delicious relaxation. Iris Rankin is the founder of Project Intention, a values-based community focused on living day-to-day with purpose, planning, and heart. Iris encourages women to adopt the self care practices that make them feel divine, the planning tools to hone in on their essential wants and needs, and the emotional resilience to express their most authentic selves.

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