Social Inequality and A Circle of Safety: The Need for Empathic Community


I recently went to a local town hall meeting put on by two U.S. House representatives in my area. The topic was A Conversation on Race. There was a panel and maybe around 500 highly engaged people who showed up to listen and ask questions. I was deeply moved by how much empathy, care, and passion there was to address social and structural inequalities, and I was also so deeply saddened and pained to hear what I knew but can easily forget living in the world I inhabit. I heard not just through a screen or device, but live, about the injustice and suffering that has gone on for so long and is still with us to such a degree, despite all the progress. And it is still happening not just in parts of my beloved country, it happens right hear where I live. 

It was heart-breaking, and I felt myself having a shared experience of heartbreak together with this group of us in the auditorium. I think about experiences I've had recently at the 4-day intensive trainings I lead. The feeling of community, care, and support is so deep and powerful. I realized more than I have before that this is the deeper reason why people come, and it is what we need so badly right now — the experience of caring community in which everyone, everyone feels safe to be themselves, and be seen, heard, and valued. I call this the Circle of Safety. It is a need that goes to the core of us, back to our beginnings as human beings living in hunter-gatherer tribes. Now is the time to come together as one human tribe, and respond together to the dangers we face.