I long to see a world of justice and joy; a world where all people’s material needs are met, and we lovingly support each other’s emotional, spiritual, and creative flourishing. Though my life is directed toward manifesting this vision, I often do things that subvert it. Though I long to be a force of peace and transformation, I often commit violence and perpetuate societal distortions.
As I walk the path back to love, truth, and unity, I have noticed more and more the ways in which I have missed the mark; ways in which I have fallen short of expressing what is truly in my heart. In the spirit and wisdom of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of return to wholeness and connection, I offer just some of the things I have noticed here. My intention is that by expressing them publicly I will be more accountable to changing my behavior. My hope is that others will see themselves in my confession, and join me on the path back to love. My prayer is that this offering will help us all heal and welcome each other in beloved community.
I have hidden.
I have stayed in the comfort of my own mental constructs. I have dismissed worldviews that contradict my own.
I have used thoughts to avoid confronting my feelings; used beliefs to cloak my needs and wounds; and used arguments to mask my fears.
I have tried to use my mind to control, predict, and create safety. I have fled from the tender power of my heart, and the truths that compassion makes me confront.
I have hated.
I have hated patterns of oppression. Hated them when they appeared in me, then hated myself. Hated them when they appeared in others, then hated others.
I have branded and shunned people who see the world differently. I have done it in my own mind, and I have done it with my language and my actions.
I have frozen people in one moment in time, and not allowed room for their growth, healing, and transformation.
I have fully internalized a distorted view of myself, believed myself to be nothing more than my unchosen role in an an oppressive system, and hated myself for things beyond my control.
I have diminished.
I have reduced people to nothing more than the distorted societal patterns that manifest in their behavior.
I have failed to see people’s true humanity and complexity; and then imagined myself insightful for doing so.
I have thought the only truths worth speaking about are pain, oppression, and injustice and have failed to make space for love, transcendence, and hope.
I have allowed my understanding of my true nature to be limited to what people around me are comfortable with.
I have judged.
I have seen people only for the harm or threat they pose, and not the wounds they suffer from.
I have interpreted people’s different experiences, understandings of politics, and uses of language as character flaws.
I have fixated on people’s missteps and failed to see their humanity.
I have reduced people to nothing more than their unchosen roles in social systems
I have used my words as weapons.
I have gossiped about people’s political or identity shortcomings and by doing so, trapped them in the box of my limited understanding.
I have imagined myself as superior to other people, then leveraged politics to put other people down.
I have used an analysis of oppression to display intellectual dominance.
I have leveraged my access to various forms of education and mentorship to make other people feel stupid, ashamed, unsafe, and unwelcomed.
I have worshipped my own self image.
I have imagined a world where some people are morally superior to others. I have enforced that vision on others to inflate my sense of self worth, and avoid confronting my own human struggles.
I have been infatuated with my self-righteousness.
I have idolized my own understanding so much that I could not see the truths of others.
I have used the language of revolution to inflate my ego.
I have used politics and social movements as a forum to acquire social status.
I have feared.
I have remained palatable to enforcers of radical left political correctness because I am afraid of being misunderstood or ostracized.
I have clung to my beliefs and not allowed room for contradictory truths to emerge.
I have failed to speak my truth because I believe I will be judged or shunned by my progressive/leftist/radical community.
I have presented myself as a victim in order to be welcomed as credible.
I have limited my circle of compassion to only those who agree with me.
I have become attached to mental constructs of justice and failed to cultivate the courage to love and act directly from the heart.
This is an incomplete list of what I have done. I doubt any of it will come as a surprise to those who know me, especially those who have suffered at my hand. I welcome folks to add to this list with things they have observed in me, or in themselves.
I am sorry. My actions have hurt people. I have hurt people I care about. I have slowed the cultivation of the compassionate world that I long to see, and I have done it in the name of speeding it up. I cannot guarantee that I will be able to fully stop behaving this way, will commit myself to doing the best I can, knowing full well that next year will be another Yom Kippur, another time for repentance, another opportunity for a more full return.
I also apologize to myself. I have been so hard on myself; constantly aspiring to an unachievable standard and then feeling bad that I don’t meet it. It is easier for me to see and share my mistakes then to notice and be proud of my successes. The gentle heart that motivates my life often goes unrecognized by the mind that sees nothing but how much more work there is to be done. Tomorrow, when the season turns from repentance to joy, I might just follow my father’s advice and write a piece about how much I’ve grown and transformed. Somehow that feels way riskier for me, so today I’ll just bask in the paradox that bringing shortcomings to light is a form of self-love.
I feel a discomfort in sharing all this, but I feel no shame. We are all missing the mark of what we could be; we are all trying our best to return to our loving and compassionate natures; and we are all walking this path on a landscape scarred by the violence of our times in a world we did not choose to be born into. I feel healing in offering my missteps into the light of repentance. Today, I recommit to loving myself, to loving you, and allowing the light of our hearts to warm us during this cold night of history we find ourselves in.
Simon Mont is an Oakland based artist, healer, facilitator, and organizer. To learn more about Simon’s work consulting to support collaborative leadership for just, joyful, and strategic organizations visit www.Harmonize.work. Simon welcomes opportunities to connect, collaborate, and explore.