"You know." He was one of my key advisors, and he would just look deeply at me and not allow me to shy away. "You really do know," he would, again, force me to face.
See, I had been describing a complex set of situations with various and differing perspectives and my presentation was meant to indicate that I was surrounded by views and had not a clear path to making my decisive plan going forward. I was presenting perspectives as if they were equally valid and I was pretending that various paths were equally possible -- all understandable, right? Except that they weren't. The complexity was only there in my presentation. What was going on was my making excuses for me to not step up. Stepping into the act of deciding, of taking real action in what I knew what was right for my company; and I damn sure knew what was wrong.
This man, a dearly valued friend, was calling me on my stuff. What he could see was sitting inside of me, in my stillness, was a knowing. And he was calling on me to trust that I really did know what was the right thing to do. And that guidance was correct. All the complexity was a smoke screen. Truthfully, I knew. If I was straight ahead honest with myself, I knew.
There are so very many times that the complexities of any situation can be allowed to become as if overwhelming. We can push things off by simply pretending we don't know what to do. Sometimes we even hide away from facing that we know that something is so wrong that we pretend we don't even notice it. There is an African proverb for this state of affairs: "It is impossible to wake a man who is pretending to sleep." We know that we need to take action, that things need to change, and that's scary.
Recently, we, as a nation faced with what is being called "a stain" on the reputation and character of the American people. The "stain" is the released report on torture performed by Intel agents of the U.S. government. Worse still is the fact that the agencies involved knew well enough how wrong what they were doing was, so they sub-contracted the dirty work to other entities in other nations, under other names. To me what is the worse part is that while the vast range of details may be factually new or more condemning, we all knew.
Extraditions were being carried out, we knew. Media sensationalized the terrorists and the terrors of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Egyptian dungeons techniques of inhumanity are all just details. WE KNEW.
We saw Tahrir Square and the surging crowds demanding changes. We look around at parts of the world where something new is at least possible for the first in a long time. We looked at Tiananmen Square, and the riot and military arms turned against youthful protesters, and we knew what they were fighting for, we knew that feeling. We can act as if confused or amused at the young protesters of yesteryear's Occupy encampments. However, at deeper levels, we know what levels of change are being called for there as well. And while it is hard to fully articulate solutions, we know new solutions are essential.
Civil Rights protesters demanding an end to racial profiling and the abuse of police forces that demonize the other and elevate tensions in communities of color. Yes, there are the significant majority of police who join in their daily tasks to protect and serve; yet we know that too many in uniforms ought not be allowed to use a gun.
We know we have sub-contracted torture activities to others. We look as if confused at the numbers as if suddenly emerging from hidden shadows, that we have in this nation over 1,000,000 private security people with guns in faux police uniforms and wonder what is going on... Yet, truly, we know that we have increasingly allowed fear to enter into our communities and rob us of our former sense of freedoms as surely as the CIA felt clear that they could get away with offering security in place of liberty, little by little. We knew, and we know.
I normally restrict my blog here at HuffPost to address food issues. And here, again, we see how we daily walk into fast food joints, convenience stores and markets where we know that the vast majority of all the packaged processed food-like substances offered to us are literally harmful and not healthful or nutritious for us or our children. We know this. So do the sugar, salt, fat industrial processors and their back-ups, the insurance companies as if designing systems that directly dismantle our health and our performance output as a nation. We know this. Note how the current wave of Fast Food TV commercials are adding more people of color to their invitations to disease?
For protesters, whether in NYC or Berkeley, somewhere inside we know that only the disciplines of civil disobedience as practiced by M.K. Gandhi or M.L. King Jr. hold the promise of pushing forward for change with the moral authority of Truth Force. If those demonstrating allow the fringe players to burn buildings, smash windows, or just loot local stores; well, you loose the moral high-ground that pulls more people to join you in the effort.
We know this, too: we need serious change in our food systems and in many core systems of finance, of our education systems, our healthcare systems, our electoral systems, and more.
I have started with Food cause I see it as possible. I know this: Consumers do drive change. Voting with your fork, works! We all must begin to act on what we know. We are, each of us, part of the solution or a continuing part of the problems.
You know that.