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To Whom It May Concern

To Whom It May Concern,

Rarely do I express my religious or political views on a public platform, but those close to me know that both topics are near and dear to my heart. Politics has been a big part of my story. How could it not? Some of the earliest memories of my childhood were of my great-grandfather shouting and cursing the name of the dictator who ruled over the country we had fled. As I grew older, I became more familiar with this name and what it represented to my family. The day came when the anger was no longer my family’s, but my own.

You see, my anger was not over lost wealth because we had none. The source of my anger came from the pain I endured year after year from not ever seeing or talking to the father I left behind at two years old. My family didn’t have the “happily ever after.” As a matter of fact, my family would suffer its worst pains after coming to the U.S. My mother never recovered from the trauma of leaving her father and husband, so her already fragile mental health worsened to the point of temporary paralysis where she was confined to a wheelchair. My cousin Andy turned to drugs and alcohol which resulted in a tragic car accident that ended his life at 17. And I would endure things that no child should ever have to experience.

I immediately thought of my aunt who is like a second mother to me. You see, my aunt served in “la agricultura” which was basically forced labor penalizing us for applying for Visa to the U.S. While working as a laborer she picked up a foot fungal infection which ate her nails and deformed her toes. So when I broke the news to her, to my surprise, she gave me a blank stare and said, “I’m neither sad or happy,” and went back to sleep.

So when I’m asked how I feel about the recent death of the dictator, and why I am not celebrating. I had to really give it some thought. Why am I not doing the victory dance? Why do I feel so numb? Why don’t I feel the hate that I’m seeing coming across my Facebook feed?

At first I thought I should be posting something before people start thinking that I agreed with the political views of the deceased dictator, but I know that would just be an attempt at “people pleasing” and not my truth. I didn’t have to dig very hard to find my truth, because my truth is this—10 years ago I decided to stop drinking alcohol and start on a spiritual journey that “if we were to live, we had to be free of anger.” “For when harboring such feelings we shut off from the sunlight of the Spirit.” I wanted to live, and not only live, but be freed of the bondage of self, so I wrote down all the resentments I had for people, places, things, and institutions. The recently deceased dictator was at the top of my list. I came to realize that my resentments were holding me captive, and those that I hated would go about their lives regardless. Holding a grudge would never heal the pain or recover all that was lost.

I was taught to pray for those I resented until the resentments were lifted, so I did, and little by little, year by year, they did start to lift and I began to heal.

So to my friends and acquaintances that are doing the victory dance today, I am choosing a different way of celebrating. My victory dance happened years ago when the resentment was lifted and I was no longer his captive.

I follow the teachings of Jesus, and as a disciple, I am commanded to forgive those who have trespassed against me. I also know that I am no one to wish anyone eternal damnation. My belief is that I will be accountable for how I chose to live out my divine purpose in this lifetime, so I choose to not judge, and to do the best I can to love others to the best of my ability…sometimes easier than others.

My hope and prayer is that the recent event will be the beginning of healing and that our fellow brothers and sisters in my beautiful homeland will reap the benefits.

Sincerely,

Arleen Milian

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