Browsing Tag

#BlackLivesMatter

Ten Thousand Days

Judge and Jury

June 5, 2020

Day 2117 – Day 2120

Earlier this week, I made a statement on my social media in support of the black community, amongst other disadvantaged groups.  Some people joined protests.  Some people donated money silently.  Some people were simply silent.

A lot of people judged one another’s response and pointed fingers at one another.

As far as I understand it, the idea of anti-racism is that it is no longer enough to simply not be racist, we must actively take a stand and work towards dismantling racism within all our systems.  We should not be applauded for never doing something dastardly if we stand by and watch others do it.  I get that.  This makes sense to me.  As a privileged white person, I still have inner and outer work to do.

I also know that I don’t know what is happening with the intentions of others, whether they are silent or vocal. All I can do is pay attention to my own intentions and behaviours and work with those people whose behaviour shows me that they are willing to walk the walk of intentions that align with my own.  If I see someone who isn’t fitting into that category, I have a choice to make: do I assume, or do I have a conversation?  As difficult as it is, I’m going to start having those conversations.  I may lose some relationships, as a consequence.  But, I might actually gain some, too.

There is no perfect response.  Sometimes PTSD and silence look the same.  Let us not judge the BIPOC person who cannot face another dead black man or woman and who does not join the protest.   And, let us help guide our brothers and sisters who have not quite caught on to the difference between not being racist and being anti-racist.  Social change takes changes within each and every one of us.  Change always takes time and isn’t linear.  Let us listen to the needs of the ones who are oppressed and then take action that amplifies, without paternalism.

I know I’ve got a lot to unlearn in order to be a potent anti-racist ally but I’m committed to doing that and I’m going to be imperfect and have blind spots.  I expect people to call me out when I’m wrong, but I ask us all to do so with respect for the fact that we are both headed in the same direction.

One of my best friends is a black man living in New York City.  I admit that I urged him to stay home.  Is that wrong?  I just don’t want him being arrested – or worse – because he is a black man out buying groceries, let alone protesting.  I want my loved ones to be safe and I also want change.  One of my favourite YouTubers captured some footage at a protest and you can clearly hear black protestors arguing about whether they should be putting their lives on the line, if it comes to that.  Everybody is having a difficult time deciding how to respond.

And, with that said, while I’m not reposting photos of police officers taking a knee, this does not mean that I think Blue lives don’t matter.  My personal opinion is that police and justice reform is required, in Canada and in the UK, to promote ways of policing and keeping the peace that no longer disproportionately targets certain groups of people.  (I will leave it to citizens of their own countries to determine if it is needed there).  I do not believe that the majority of law enforcement is made up of bad people – at least not in Canada or in the UK.  The fact that we have frequent incidents of excessive force and a disproportionate number of police killing innocent people from the BIPOC community tells me that if the people are not bad, then the system must be.  That is where I think we should be channelling our work – dismantling and rebuilding a just and fair system.

Everybody – whether BIPOC or white, whether protestor or police – deserves to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. At a time when we are standing up for justice and equality, let us not become judge and jury towards our fellow human being.

Let’s talk and let’s listen.

I’m grateful for the dialogue.  I am grateful for the press – whether official or citizen – that is documenting what is going on in the world.  I’m grateful for those who are willing to reserve judgement and offer ideas that will help me find my way through.  I hope that maybe this reminder might help someone else, who is struggling.  I’m grateful to be called out – either through a public activist who is calling out a society, collectively, or by a friend who will privately have a conversation with me.

But I’m also grateful that I have a platform to say this: call-out culture and an attitude of us versus them is not okay.  Publicly or privately shaming anyone or any group of people is not okay.  Shame is not the way to win someone to your ideas; it seems to me that it makes someone take a firm defensive position even when they might have been struggling to know where to stand.  Where they could have been persuaded to be an ally, they are now divided from us.

Finally, I’m grateful that my spiritual path is love because as far as I have seen, love is always the only answer.

Photo: Perry Grone

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

The Light in the Fire

June 1, 2020

Photo: Logan Weaver

Day 2112 – Day 2116

Black Lives Matter.

I’m not a preacher and I’ve got no answers to the world’s problems but if you don’t agree that black lives matter, then this probably isn’t the site for you.  You might want to find another.

When I saw the photos a week ago, I was sick.  I’m sure that if you’re still reading, it sickened you as well.

I have been purposely undertaking a Covid news blackout for my mental heath, aside from a daily scan of headlines.  Last Monday, I looked at the news.

Around the world, inequality is killing millions of people.  In India, the migrant workers are STILL not home.  Sheltered under bridges, on the side of the road, or rounded up and detained in crowded conditions, their situation, in a pandemic, is a death sentence.  I know these people.  They are poor villagers who went to the city in hopes of earning some money to send home to support their families.  When India suddenly locked down the country with only a few hours’ notice, they were stranded without shelter, food or money.  Even those who can make it to their state by walking across the continent are being turned back at state borders.  The poor are being left to die.

In Colombia, government funds to help fight Covid-19 and to support the people have been embezzled, and widespread corruption means that World Bank funds have again been funnelled into the Swiss bank accounts of the elite, while the poor hang out red cloths from their windows, a symbol that they are in desperate need and are facing starvation.  Venezuelan refugees, caught in Colombia, like the migrant workers of India, without a home in which to shelter, are facing starvation in similar inhumane conditions as those in India.

And a friend in Brazil is looking forward to the birth of her first child.  I reached out to her this week to see how she was faring – fearful for her, in a country that is run by a dictator who refuses to lockdown the country or make any provisions for the pandemic.  Widespread deaths are needlessly occurring as grave diggers have to be creative and create high-rise vertical grave sites to keep up with the need.

Inequality is killing millions around the world.

In the country that is my neighbour, 40 cities are under curfew tonight and the leader is nowhere to be found.  For days I have been unable to sleep.  I’m sure you’re not resting easily, either.

I question the narrative that the media is piecing together.  People burning down their own neighbourhoods?  No, this doesn’t seem right.  But who will get the blame? The black man.  Same as it ever was.  And who will die, if there is a spike in Covid cases from a justifiable and righteous anger that has not been quelled by a compassionate leader?  Same as it ever was.

When journalists are being targeted, arrested and shot by the police – despite identifying themselves as press – and when peaceful protesters, with their hands in the air, are approached by police and have their pandemic mask ripped from their face so they can be pepper sprayed, I have to wonder how anyone can doubt that police brutality is an overstated phenomenon.  Institutions have lost the trust of the population and when this happens, historically, coups follow.

I fear that martial law will come next and if so, I challenge my readers to pay careful attention to which citizen’s militia are allowed to join the forces that are restraining the population.  The time has come again for the privileged to form a resistance to help protect and empower targeted populations.  It feels like we, as a human race, have been here too many times even in this century.  Oh Lord, same as it ever was.

In my Sufi lineage, we have been warned of the darkening of the world for as long as I’ve been sitting with the teacher (15 years).  In my Christian tradition, we are warned of the worsening of life on earth that signals the End Times.  Are we in the End Times?  I don’t know.  It has been pretty bad in Rwanda and the Congo, in Central America and in the Soviet Union in my lifetime.  To think it is End Times just because it impacts me is a bit of white, Western, privilege.  But, End Times may have been upon us for a long, long time.  I do not know.  What I do know is that I have been feeling the darkening of the world for at least as long as I’ve been sitting with the Sufis in meditation.  The job of the mystic and of the Christian – in good times and bad – is to hold and build their spiritual light and to encourage others to do the same.  It does not have to be the same as it ever was.

Hold your light, my friends.  Have faith.  God has not forsaken the world.  If you don’t believe in God, then look around you for the helpers.  Goodness has not left the world.  There is so much goodness in the hearts of humankind.  It is our job to stand up, show up and speak up.  It is also our job to meditate, pray and fortify the soul.  Only by building the light in our own souls can we vanquish the darkness in the world.  Without our light by which to read our moral compass, all our works are easily corrupted.

I’ve done all the studies in strategy, politics and economics.  I’ve worked with governments and corporations around the world.  I have no answers but to build the light and be the light that the world needs.

I am grateful for my ability to listen with an open heart and bear witness to the pain of those who are not as privileged as I am.  I am grateful for all the resources that are available to me to support those seeking justice and to unlearn my privileged view of the world.  I am grateful to my spiritual communities around the world with whom I can connect as we do our individual prayer and meditation and I am grateful that our work benefits the collective.  I am grateful for the activists – friends and strangers – who remind me to walk the walk of my values at times like these.  I am grateful for this platform where I can say to you that I feel, in one sense, as helpless as you may feel, in the face of the world on fire.  And I am grateful that perhaps you trust me enough, now, to join me in building spiritual strength to combat the darkness.  What each of us does is no longer for our own salvation.  It is for the collective soul that we must do our spiritual work. Let us rise to the spiritual battle of our lifetimes, even as we fight to end inequality and injustice in the material world.

Have faith.  The good shall prevail.  Be the light in the world on fire.  Stay well, stay safe.

Photo: Austrian National Library

For what are you most grateful, today?