It is simple, and it’s complex.
The simple part: ultimately it’s about being kind to each other and listening deeply
The complex part: each human perspective takes effort to understand - and there are many perspectives in our reality
Below I hope I am beginning a conversation for healing... for those of loving intention, open hearts and minds who also want a better future for our country and world.
I am choosing to share a few thoughts and feelings on the Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter conversation. This is a super complex conversation which devolves quickly into name-calling. I believe we are called to a higher, more loving synthesis and a new beyond-synthesis breakthrough. People I care about who are kind and well-intentioned are confused by this whole thing. And other people I care about are infuriated when people (typically non-black people) act as if the “Black Lives Matter” statement has the word “Only” in front of it. To Blacks it is a statement that cries out in deep grief, pain and even despair... and implies the word “TOO” at the end. Black Lives Matter TOO...yet that is not their experience of life. It is a plea: “Please see me”, “Please listen to me”, “Please empathize with my pain” and “Please take some action to help change the way the system works - because it’s not fair.”
So where can we go to heal all of this? I want healing. I want a loving future. How about you?
Here are my thoughts:
1.THE REALITY: We’re in the same boat and our fate is tied together (AND yes we sit in different seats on the boat). The same boat = We are all on this planet, in this country, and in this experience of being human together. The world is getting “smaller”. We cannot hide. We MUST get along. AND...Different seats = different embodied realities leading to different perspectives. More on this below.
2. THE GOAL: give and receive Loving Kindness. If we are going to have a good life given point 1 - and leave a good future world for our kids and grandkids we must find out way to loving kindness with each other. **This is the noble, super-ordinate goal that must be held up any time we get stuck.** A loving, kind future for our grandkids and their grandkids and for all sentient life on this planet.
3. THE PATH: Compassion and Wisdom. Self Awareness and Other Awareness (Empathy). Prayer and Skillful Loving Action. IQ, Emotional Intelligence, Spiritual Intelligence. FORGIVENESS is essential We all need forgiveness for our blind spots - and to try to make amends for our past unskillful actions. We need to ASK FOR and to GRANT forgiveness to the imperfect expressions of others. (And the first step is usually to ask others to forgive us first).
4. GRACE: we need the Grace of forgiveness from each other, the Grace of self-forgiveness, the Grace of guidance and love from the God/Higher Power of your understanding
Nice ideals...BUT How do we get there? Let’s start with Love.
Love is demanding.
It demands both good intention and EFFORT - a whole bunch of effort. I have to make the effort to see the perspective of others as if we were in their shoes. This is - to me - the essence of the teaching of Jesus (Love one another as I have loved you) and of many other spiritual teachers through the centuries. It is the task I try to take on each day...it is hard work.
#BlackLivesMatter cannot be understood
- outside of its historical context (centuries of discriminatory treatment)
- outside of the daily lived experience of black people.
- outside of a willingness to hear
The daily lived experience of African Americans is not the same as the daily lived experience of Whites, or Asian Americans, or Latin Americans.
This is more easily understood if you consider the daily lived experience of Women/Girls vs. Men/boys. If a man tries to tell me that my experience of discrimination as a woman from fear of rape, to career discrimination is not real I would feel sad, angry, not heard, and deeply discounted. After years of being ignored/discounted I would be very angry. Women, even today, receive many messages that are problematic: be thin, be pretty, dress provocatively (like those girls on TV) - but if you get raped it’s because of how you dressed, etc. etc. Women in the developing world still experience horrors I hate to think about from educational-deprivation, to genital mutilation, to child-marriages and more. If I created a hashtag #WomensLivesMatter and men attacked me and said “Why do only Women matter?” and tagged it #AllLivesMatter - would I feel heard or dismissed? I would feel dismissed.
*Yet Men are not evil*. Men get horrible messages growing up too. Suppress your feelings - don’t cry. Don’t play with dolls. Don’t dress up and play pretend in girl stuff. Don’t like anything pink or purple. Be tough. Be ready to become die for your country - that’s being a man.
Life is hard for every human being on this planet.
Let me repeat that: Life is hard for every human being on this planet.
There is no person without pain of some form in their lives. And we are not helped by offering competing “yeah, well my life is hard too” stories. It becomes some kind of pain competition. We need a LOVE competition. A SOLUTIONS competition.
We need to remember the pain - but not compete over it. Competing stories of who-had-it-harder dulls listening.
White males feel especially under attack these days for all their “privileges” and I understand that. I believe many white males feel they don’t have privilege - in the usual understanding of that word - in that they are poor, disabled, jobless, or struggling with multiple low-pay jobs, dealing with loneliness, caregiving their elders while raising kids, or having other significant suffering in their lives. And whatever they do have they feel they worked darn hard to get. I think our too-easy attack on whites who don’t practice politically correct language, and especially white males creates a dangerous counter reaction of whites lashing back out. I want to #ListentotheirPain and love the white guys too.
AND I am very heartbroken over the systemic injustice that #BlackLivesMatter points out. I want to listen to their pain! I want solutions that provide social justice for all!
So how to go forward? With effort, good hearts and tons of forgiveness. Deep self-control is needed to not fire off harsh words that make things worse. Softening the edges of my beliefs is needed to hear people better. Feeling the heart of the other is an easier place to start than in their beliefs. Feel their feelings, experience their pain, and try to see their experience without my usual filters.
Just as I cannot understand a man’s point of view without effort (since I am not a man), I cannot understand the point of view of a black person, an Asian person, a person from Mexico or a Muslim. I cannot understand, without effort, the point of view of anyone really - even those in my own family - if I don’t make an effort.
Not one of us enjoys being scolded. So I would suggest we do our best not to scold/shame people sharing their feelings for their word choices. That doesn’t mean we can’t set boundaries around hateful speech or verbal attacks. But we can avoid injuring others and making things worse.
Many people are tired of being corrected for not being politically correct enough.
And many people are tired of being dismissed, ignored, or told it’s their fault for how they dress (women’s clothes, hoodies) or how they behave (don’t ever move your hands when you are stopped by police).
All of this is more complex than we might wish it was.
Blaming the victims won’t work. Blaming all cops won’t work.
Most cops are really good people and heroically risk their lives for us. We need to appreciate them and the risks they take. We need to celebrate the good while rooting out and addressing the bad.
So what can we do?
I come back to the 4 points I began with:
1. We are in this together. There is no escaping our shared destiny.
2. We CAN agree on a goal - A loving, kind, fair, safe future.
3. We CAN work hard together to get there: we need to build the skills of empathy, listening, and skillful action (IQ, EQ - emotional intelligence and SQ - spiritual intelligence)
4. Find the Grace of guidance and forgiveness - from whatever you understanding is of God/Higher Power and from each other, and from our inner Higher selves.
Listening is a great place to start.
Hear what the Black Life Matters movement intends to say - Black Lives need to matter EQUALLY to others - and right now they don’t. Systemic discrimination is real.
Self-forgiveness is another great place to start. Loving ourselves helps us love others. What we hate in ourselves we project as blame onto others...but that’s for a separate post. :)
So next time you see #BlackLivesMatter please hear #BlackLivesMatterTOO – and **hear the pain** and the plea for help. Don’t dismiss it…Please acknowledge the lived experience of Black people who have a different experience than any other group in our country. Their lives do matter - yet they die disproportionately and live in fear.
Let’s forgive ourselves and each other. Let’s love ourselves and each other. Let’s listen to those not usually heard. Let’s seek first to understand the other person. Let’s share our pain and let it motivate us to share concrete, loving solutions for a better future. And in each day in small and large ways, let’s act with loving kindness as much as possible.
Because all lives DO matter…and right now there is a lot of pain in the Black community…and in the Police Community…and the White Community…and the Muslim community…and the LGBT Community…and… and… and… and…
You get the idea.
Let’s pray for each other and act on our prayers to make the USA a better place...Let’s move one step closer to our stated and beautiful ideals as a country.
Wishing love and grace to all of us...