Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Riot Within*

Violent protests in response to violent actions are understandable, especially when the violent actions occur repeatedly, and are directed disproportionately towards human beings who are already marginalized in every other regard. What white privileged people need to do is shake up their own hearts and minds, violently so if necessary. Here are some things to consider.

The following is not a riddle, but a starting point to operate from: What is not black, white, yellow, red, brown, or any other color? What is not male, female, or any other sexual or gender identity? What is not gay, straight, queer, or any sexual orientation at all? What is not young or old? The answer is: Your soul. Think about that. The very fabric of your being has absolutely nothing to do with demographics nor outward appearances. Most of those are accidents of genetics and time.

We must begin to live our lives first and foremost from that perspective, as soul first, and everything else second. Not even second. Trivial, if not totally meaningless. Some rare individuals have achieved this, but most of us have not. It is not something you can teach, and not an overnight transformation. It takes conscious effort, and it may even fly in the face of your biological nature. The thing about our species is that we were gifted the ability to understand and, when necessary, overcome our instincts when they do not serve us well.

Caucasian people cannot possibly comprehend what the experience of a black person is like. We can, maybe, understand from our own experiences those circumstances of exclusion, repeated denial of our worth, and poverty. Thankfully, fewer still know the fear for their life every day, from others, even law enforcement. We do not know what it is to be subjected daily to suspicion, stereotypes, and injustice, with zero justification. If we can at least empathize, then we know we cannot demand that those tortured souls “behave” themselves in the face of continued mistreatment.

We should indeed feel shame for participating in institutional racism, even unwittingly, and fully recognize the sins of our fathers from previous generations. It can end with us if we want it to. We should want it to, because in limiting anyone else, we limit ourselves. Back to the soul again, the part of you that is colorblind. You cannot elevate your own being by denigrating anyone else. That is the strategy of the bully, and if you measure your life purely by economic and social status, then you are missing the vast ocean for the beach.

Surrender is the answer, of course. Surrender power to those we have marginalized and betrayed. Exercise your faith that equality for others does not translate to reverse inequality. Reverse discrimination is a myth fed to us by those who wield economic and social power over others of all non-affluent demographics. Stop defining the rules so that you can maintain all the benefits you receive from them. Stop insisting that you know what is best for others when they can damn well speak for themselves. Take their cuffs off and embrace the possibilities.

Most of all, surrender your personal attitudes and assumptions, and expose yourself as much as possible to as many other souls as possible, ignoring the externalities. “Free your mind” is not just a wonderful quote from The Matrix, it should be what we strive for every minute of every day. Accept nothing less of yourself than a total commitment to living from your soul first, and accepting others at the level of their soul.

Limitless. That is the essence of our souls, and we are all in bondage when we define ourselves and each other by mere physicality, philosophy, and fiscal parameters. Murder, mass incarceration, discrimination, and racism are overt acts of hostility that threaten to unravel us as a society and as individuals. They are the antithesis of who we are at our core, in our souls. We owe it to ourselves to be better than that, to transcend our bodies and minds, and lead with our hearts.

* This title came to mind without my knowledge that it is also the title of a book by Rodney King.

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