NEWSLETTER - March 2018
Social media explodes nearly everyday with some hashtag (#) that has” gone viral,” leaving many of us trying to make sense of it all. It can seem unending, confusing, and one isn’t sure what or which social issue to pay attention to, let alone address. Moreover, some of these issues do not directly impact certain people groups so it can almost seem “unnecessary to get involved,” as I have heard some say.
At the core however, is a common seed: each of the hashtags is a battle-cry from the oppressed toward the oppressors. It’s a gathering together to say here we are, we have endured, and we matter. From #BLACKLIVESMATTER, #LOVEISLOVE, #LOVEWINS, #ENDGUNVIOLENCE, #TAKEAKNEE, #PUERTORICO, to #METOO, #TIMESUP and #NEVERAGAIN, each of these in and of themselves points to a systemic issue – a societal infrastructure and/or norms – that is maintaining pain and marginalization within our American society. Taken together, seen through the lens of their shared common core, it is an overwhelming indictment of our American culture.
Have you ever been asked to move along, after you’ve taken a seat at an outdoor table of a coffee shop? Had people who don’t look like you nervously cross the street to avoid passing you? Have you been called names that are tags for people groups? If you can say no to these questions then you probably live a privileged life.
Many of us cringe at the term ‘privilege’ because it has not been how we view ourselves, or we think it may diminish our own hard work and grit, or it doesn’t feel congruent to what we have personally gone through. Yet if you could answer no to these questions, you’ve enjoyed a welcome to the table of society’s options.
We like to think of ourselves as “better than this,” and many Americans take a very proactive approach to understand how a privileged group may not see and understand what it is like to live outside that privilege. Some people loath the term “privilege” because it seems to put them in a class that they themselves have never determined to be privileged. The poignant truth for all of us is that the very first colonies put into law the rights of “White men” to own land, do business, have education, influence policy and be lawmakers, carrying guns to protect that right (Battalora, 2013). Our infrastructure built from this foundation, limited and controlled by that very privilege that allowed some people power and not allowing others to share in that same privilege.
So what can the average person do? As a psychotherapist working with families and couples, I get asked this from time to time. There is much one can do: become more fully educated about how privilege shapes our communities (who lives where, who gets what jobs, who has Other cross the street when they approach and who does not, just to name a few); wade in to what makes you uncomfortable and look inside yourself to see why it does; have conversations and build relationships with those who don’t look like you, don’t act like you, don’t worship where you worship, those that you usually do not associate with. Become a learner, open to see our society through another’s lens.
Families --white families; families of color have these talks because they must -- need to talk about what privilege is and exercise empathy for our brothers and sisters of color. We must teach our children as we learn ourselves, how to have civil conversations about difficult issues, policies and politicians. The great statesman Kofi Annan said, “If tolerance, respect and equity permeate family life, they will translate into values that shape societies, nations and the world.”
In corporate and political spheres there is a phrase, “We want to be at the table,” which is simply to say we want a voice, we want power and influence in this arena. These hashtags are asking for the same thing by banging on the doors of our social-conscience to have a place at the American table.
These movements heighten our awareness, increase our dialogue, and hopefully open our hearts and minds to consider with empathy how each of us can extend dignity and respect for every person.
Nila Epstein, LPC, LMFT Retires!
We colleagues celebrate Nila's much-deserved retirement after years of serving within her greater Portland community, but she will be sorely missed by us all. Nila's wisdom, compassion, humor and insight have enriched the lives of all who have had the priviledge of knowing her.
If you are a past client – or someone who has been referred to Nila recently – please feel free to reach out to any one of the clinicians at this site for follow up. Since we are each independent practitioners who share this site, we will not have any access to previous records but would be happy to come alongside you in any further work you would wish to do. We invite you to look over the biographical page of each clinician here and if someone specifically resonates with you, please indicate so in your email or phone message. You can email directly through this website by simply clicking on the Contact Us tab, put the therapist’s name in the subject line or body of your text and you can expect contact within 24 hours (or by Monday, if the message is sent over the weekend).
We wish Nila all the very best in her upcoming adventures and our hearts are filled with gratitude for her collegiality and friendship.
Clinician Pamela McManus, MA, LMFT-Intern has joined us!
We are very excited to announce the addition of Pamela McManus, MA, LMFT-I to our site, in October 2017. Pamela is a graduate of the George Fox University, Marriage and Family Therapy Program.
Pamela has been serving clients in the local area for the past three years as she works toward her completion of licensure. We believe her warmth and insights will benefit all those she serves here and we look forward to her being part of our team.
Please check out her bio page on our website and if she looks like a good fit for you, be sure and reach out to her through our Contact Us page by putting her name in your subject line or message.
Hope for 2018...
Richard Rohr reminds us that "There can be no renewal without loss." As we say farewell to 2017, we look forward to renewal within 2018 for all of us - our clients, ourselves, our communities - with an expectation for hard work, connection, laughter, community, and healing.