“Feelings are real. Feelings are helpful. Feelings are neither good or bad.” That’s the takeaway from a lesson Hilary and Monica teach at their holiday peace exchanges with students from tribes in the midst of violent conflict. They use the lesson to teach students about emotional regulation and how they can use their feelings in constructive ways when it comes to conflict de-escalation.
I’ve found myself revisiting this lesson quite a bit in the last 3 days since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It turns out I have quite a lot of feelings about it. Outrage, confusion, sadness, overwhelmed, tired, scared, helpless to name a few…
Parts of me feel very heavy about the Supreme Court’s decision. Abortion is still legal in Washington D.C. where I live, but I’m grieving for people across the U.S. living in states with trigger laws or intentions to ban it in the coming weeks/months. Part of me feels tired from what feels like endlessly fighting and caring about basic human rights in a country that spends over $800 billion on its military rather protecting its children from school shootings. Part of me feels helpless because I’m halfway around the globe from protests and my friends and family.
Part of me also feels extremely grateful. I’ve lived a comfortable, privileged life. I’ve had amazing work, education, and travel opportunities. I’m healthy. But that’s not the case for 36% of Kenyans who live below the international poverty line, the 41% of Kenyans who do not access to clean water, or pastoralists in Northern Kenya in the midst of violent conflict. I almost feel selfish for caring about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling when there is so much work to be done in Kenya, too.
In reality I know that ALL my feelings are real. ALL my feelings are helpful. And ALL my feelings are neither good or bad. I know that emotions aren’t binary. As I talked about in my first blog, multiple things can be true at once. My feelings about Roe v. Wade are valid. And my feelings about what I’ve seen in Kenya thus far are also valid.
I’m a firm believer that all healing happens in connection. At the end of the day, connection to myself and others has kept me going in the past 3 days. Taking time to reflect, write, and breathe has kept me going. Stretching has kept me going. FaceTiming with my dear friend Martha back home has kept me going. Connecting with Monica and going to see a movie with her has kept me going.
This coming week, myself and the CPI Kenya staff leave to launch 2 startups in Northern Kenya. One is a women’s entrepreneur network that aims to empower pastoralist women to build their own businesses and create sustainable livelihoods/opportunities for peace between 2 warring tribes. Another is a cow camp that will bring warriors from 2 opposing tribes together to figure out how they can share resources, like pastureland. These projects are keeping me going.
I have no wise words to say. But I’ll leave you again with the mantra I’ve been repeating to myself: feelings are real. Feelings are helpful. Feelings are neither good or bad.
 (You can donate on to help us launch these startups on July 20th via GlobalGiving!)
Posted By Julia Holladay
Posted Jun 27th, 2022