What do Nazis have to do with your teeth?
A holistic approach to oral health doesn’t stop at the boundaries of our bodies (or even at the edge of our aura).
We exist in communities that are connected globally in real time and our mouths are not separate from what is going on in the world.
If you feel like current events are setting your teeth on edge, that is not just a turn of phrase.
The political is personal and our teeth can respond rapidly and catastrophically to subconscious thoughts and feelings about what is going on around us.
Today I am sharing an email I sent to the Holistic Tooth Fairy Circle on 17 August 2017.
As well as international bombings, climate change disasters, refugee crises, apparently endless examples of corporate crime, misogyny, racism and homophobia, three recent events in particular have almost paralyzed me this week.
- The threat of nuclear war suddenly became more urgent than I can remember since my teens.
- In New Zealand where I live a Maori woman politician I deeply admire was hounded out of office for trying to speak out about poverty.
- Nazis and the KKK marching without hoods in Charlottesville
Each of these three events has deep emotional resonance with my own life experiences: growing up in the Cold War 1980s, single parenting on a government benefit through the 1990s, and my family history of poverty and pogroms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I have been riding a rollercoaster of emotional and physical responses to the news, using all the metaphysical resources at my disposal to avoid retreating into numbness. I am determined that I will not silently acquiesce to the world going to hell in a handbasket on my watch.
Not only because I want to be on the right side of history but because my teeth won’t let me stand by. One of my teeth is loose in its socket and I have a little cavity which is niggling and I believe these are connected to a deep-seated (ancestral) fear of speaking out.
When we don’t speak our authentic truth we undermine our teeth.
When we are silent in the face of injustice we undermine our teeth.
When we are too fearful to stand up for what we believe in, we undermine our teeth.
In trying to find ways that I can add my voice to those speaking out against racist, sexist bullies I’ve made this video, and ‘grafittied’ this billboard. I’ve hijacked my own personal Facebook Profile and my Holistic Tooth Fairy Twitter feed with political posts. It feels terrifying (and exhilarating).
Feeling the fear
It feels particularly risky to my livelihood to use this platform to speak out against racist, sexist, planet-destroying bullies. So I found myself unable to write anything- this draft stayed open and almost blank on my desktop for two whole days while I spun my wheels (or rather scrolled my FB feed, which is the digital equivalent).
Reading this article today woke me up. I have a responsibility to share what I know about the connection between your teeth, prejudice, inequality and bullying.
I need to let you know that even if you don’t feel the external effects of prejudice (because you are cushioned by white/class/cis privilege) feeling numb undermines your well-being, and in this particular context, undermines your teeth.
I encourage you to find ways to process your feelings in response to the current events most disturbing to you.
I encourage you to be honest with yourself about what you feel as you witness others being attacked for speaking up.
I encourage you to find ways to speak your truth while keeping yourself safe from attack.
I have adopted the Obama family motto to help guide my activism: ‘When they go low, we go high.’
My Nazi root canal
I’m not encouraging you to put yourself in the middle of a mob, or tell secrets that make you vulnerable to attack. But I’m telling my secret because it will help explain why I’m writing this today.
My first root canal was triggered by a shame-filled period of homelessness on the run from Nazi-punk bullies who turned on me when I challenged their anti-semitism.
It was not a co-incidence. The connection between the Nazi bullying and my root canal is obvious even if the exact mechanism isn’t clear.
It could be that the experience ‘turned on’ an epi-genetic predisposition to weak teeth which can be traced to ancestral traumas of impoverishment and anti-semitism.
Or maybe my terror tipped the balance in an accumulation of stressors built up from conception through to my teens.
It could be that the unbalancing of my root chakra (related to safety, home and ancestry) undermined the root of my tooth.
Or maybe it was simply poor diet, physical tension, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and an irregular lifestyle that caused that particular tooth to die. Poor people are particularly vulnerable to these easily measurable factors that undermine teeth and gum health.
Probably it was a combination of all these things. Looking at the bigger picture behind and around your teeth troubles is part of the healing we need to do, for ourselves and each other.
You and your teeth are not separate from the rest of society. We are all connected. Taking charge of our own oral health also means taking responsibility as global citizens.