I get all wrapped up. In teaching. In the News of the Day. In projects around the house. In family. In “What will I do?” and “How can I help?” In I want to solve The Problem. I want to make everything right. I want to say, “I’m sorry.” I’m white and empathetic and an advocate, but not an activist. I thought I understood, but I didn’t. And now I do. Sort of. I don’t know what it’s like to be beaten because of my gender, race or religion. I don’t know what it’s like to live in fear. I don’t know what it’s like to walk in a neighborhood and stand out, not because of my accomplishments, but because I’m black or brown and they are white. I don’t know what it’s like to have economic opportunities denied and a legacy of family members enslaved. Like a lot of other white people, I have always had great empathy and love for everyone. But that wasn’t–that isn’t–enough.
I used to get upset and say, “Well, that’s not me. Not all white people are bad.” And I, personally, have never to my knowledge said or done anything remotely reeking of racism. Nor have I tolerated it from anyone around me. Family members will attest to that. What I am guilty of is not being educated, not doing the research, reading the books, asking questions, hanging out with people beyond the confines of my own inner circle. In so many ways, I have segregated myself. I don’t hang out with anyone except my family and very few friends. I don’t reach out. I don’t socialize. It’s just me, my dogs, my home and my cousin and sister, ex-husband and once in a while, my grown kids and grandkids. I have created a comfortable, insular environment; I don’t hear the conversations. I don’t experience the joy and pain of those beyond my street address. And this bubble has created an unintended canyon where I can witness events and stories from afar, think I understand, but I really don’t.
And that has to do with segregation. Not legal segregation. Economic segregation. Education segregation. Grocery store segregation. And all the things we do, day-to-day to create a sense of comfort and security. If our neighborhoods and schools aren’t diverse, how in the world can we attempt to understand each other?
I haven’t blogged for a while because of “this”. Because I know the questions are profound and the answers are more complex than my pea-brain can fathom. But “this” is more profound than COVID-19 and even my sweet granddaughter, Millie’s birth. Because, even if we do somehow outwit the pandemic, what kind of world will my grandchildren inherit? An Us vs. Them or a Take What is Mine, to Hell with the Rest World?
When Gandhi spoke of being the change you wish to see in the world, he understood that we have to constantly re-examine what it means to be our highest selves. We have to be open to the notion that maybe, despite our best intentions, our perception has been wrong. In such moments, we need to meditate, pray about, then determine the next step to reverse our thoughts and action.
While the protests have been impassioned and uplifting, they have also inspired venom. Hate. Mistrust. The perpetuation of lies, conspiracy theories. How do we change that?
Overt. Subtle. Draw them in. Don’t push them away. Tempting. I know. But change requires going to The Source. We have to be inspiring. We have to tell The Truth.
* * *
At this moment, the doves are cooing. The sun is rising and my evolving front yard Poetry Garden is beckoning me to weed her overgrown patches. Last week, when we were encouraged to go outside with our flashlights and illuminate the night sky, Mr. Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” repeated over and over in my head. George Floyd was a precious child of God. Like you. Like me. Like my children and grandchildren. My child can’t breathe.
I want to do something, I confess to God, but I am afraid of contracting COVID-19 if I protest.
I sit on the stoop and notice a few neighbors open their doors, and join me from afar as we silently beckon a Higher Power. It is quiet. Curfew. No rumblings of trucks or helicopters. Just a few neighbors in the shadowed darkness.
Love, a voice whispers.
Visually remind people, as they walk past Angel Cove Cottage and ponder Michael Weiss’ (of Wine Country Craftsman https://winecountrycraftsman.com ) sculptured sign–LOVE–what each of us can do–in this moment–to positively change the world.
Instead of wanting to be “right” and win the argument, shake out the junk, the hyperbole, and listen from the perspective of love. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It’s all there, in the garden, in the songs, in the Bible, in your brother and sister’s eyes, in Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of the Morning”:
“Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply