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Healing is communal.

Your cells already know about community healing. When something goes wrong – injury or trauma – it requires the entire community to bring about healing. Cells start to replicate their DNA more rapidly.  

Your cells already know about trauma. Injuries, wounds and damaging interactions are all parts of living in a dynamic world. If movement, change, relationships and transformation are possible, then trauma will also be possible.

When injuries occur, individual cells are damaged. Their cell membranes are punctured, their cytoplasm leaks out, their DNA gets chopped up into bits and their functions cease. But beyond this damage – the destruction of individual cells – there’s a much farther reaching and longer lasting damage. A wound develops. It’s a gap in the tissue, an entire area that typically serves an important function in the body but now, in the presence of this wound, has lost its function. Not only individuals, but the entire community experiences trauma. And the trauma can last for generations.  

Your cells respond to this trauma through intricate intercellular communication: through cytokines. These are proteins that travel between cells, signaling for cells to migrate to the wounded area, filling it in. The cytokines signal to surrounding cells to keep proliferating until the wound is fully healed. They override the normal systemic functions and redirect cellular resources toward healing. These cytokines reframe the interactions and functions of the community of cells. They change the rulebook. A newfound sensitivity arises in the community, and responding to the trauma becomes a top priority of the entire system.

There is a type of human trauma that is not isolated but is communal. When we, as a community, endure violence, pain, hatred or loss, true healing involves more than individual healing. Healing will require newfound sensitivity and a reframing of the community’s priorities. Relieving the pain and promoting the health of the bearers of the trauma becomes the top priority of the entire community. Your cells already know how to bear one another’s burdens.