This space is usually reserved for the positive side of life. The wellness directives, the You-Got-This! articles. The things that move us forward in that quest for peace and whole health. But as I returned to St. Louis last night, I felt a sickening swirl of sadness, pain, anger, frustration, and confusion as I read the news accounts of the continued rioting and protesting (they are not the same) over the unexplained death of a young man in Ferguson, MO, a neighboring municipality. After reading one too many articles, I really wonder if Michael Brown is still the epicenter, as we move further from a conversation on racial justice toward the political tug of war that appears to be trumping community healing.

It doesn’t help that my social media feeds are peppered with emotional news sources. Insightful? Hardly. Incite-ful? Absolutely. Many editorialists are disguised as journalists, relying on second hand information, and disseminating perceptions over realities. Where are we supposed to go for objective updates? Certainly not the Injustice Trolls, the gnats that smugly regurgitate nasty articles in the hopes of swaying my opinions. (Really? You think you're progressive because you added a snide remark to the hate-filled link you shared?) Not the maniacal limelight chasers like egocentric politicians and correspondents crafting sensationalized stories for career advancement. So there’s my anger thing…

I’m simply a middle-aged, midwestern white woman that’s well aware of residual prejudices and fears. I have a few scars from injustices, and I occasionally roll my sleeves up so you can get a glimpse. Yes, I live in Kirkwood, MO, where Cookie Thorton shot up my community police officers and counsel friends 20 feet from my husband. You think we aren’t still affected because we had a few counseling sessions? There isn’t a platitude that will change his visuals, or give us back our former selves. So I get your roiling emotions, even if I can’t know how they feel on you. But can we shift our focus back to the hurting community and what must be done from our kitchen tables and offices and government centers? Because I know from experience that community healing comes from problem solving.

As a health education professional, I’m trained in assessment. That means I seek to identify the factors that impact health and well being. Biological, behavioral, environmental. Concentric rings of influencers: individuals, families, organizations, communities, cultures, governments. A successful health ed program is one that supports a sustainable change in behaviors or conditions. Healing, well being, life.

I’m unable to do that for Ferguson at this time. It is bigger than me, and when I self-assess, I’m a few points shy of cultural competence. I want the bad guys to go home, and the community to come together for those really tough conversations. I want to be the one crafting the story, editorializing on the human spirit. Pretty pictures of coexistence.

My reality is that I have a safe place to finish some overdue projects and I can bury my head and heart in them for a while. In the meantime, I will take steps to remain emotionally balanced which is a vital piece of whole health. For me, that means I’ll reduce my news intake, read intelligent discourse, block a few hate mongers, acknowledge my mixed emotions, pray for peace, explore ways to help, and continue to believe in the spirit of Ferguson, St. Louis, and the vast, diverse globe we’ve been invited to nurture.


Note: Know there are lots of great thoughts out there. These three links are intelligent discourse in my opinion: