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Collectively Eliminating Racisim

via Collectively Eliminating Racisim

This is a great post by Shobna. We each have a responsibility to our part, our small part. We can only change the world we are immediate with.

For me, Michelle Obama‘s quote points to Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” How often do I critically examine my actions, my words, my life? What privileges run below the surface and privilege me in my life? Where can I go without worry of being stopped and interrogated?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh remind me of the intertwined nature my life of as part of a larger garment of inter-being. What have I done to make the threads that link me to others stronger, healthier, and more whole?

Wendell Berry in his poem, Be Still in Haste, speaks to the need to pause. In each ensuing moment, I begin anew to set the world right. This moment is always the first.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first.

Find a place where you are comfortable and reflect on life. For me, it is a walk in nature. I took the following picture in Jasper National Park several years ago. I could sit on the edge of this lake, soaking in the majesty and reflecting on how I made life better in the next first moment.



15 responses »

  1. Please tell me how any of that will change the systemic hatred, racism, violence, women hating, and inequality in our country. How will examining an individual life, change the unjust system in any way at all? We have to remove the gatekeepers, the people who hold the system in place. It’s not about individuals, it’s about group action and support. It’s about getting to the root of the problem and making lasting changes. Examining a life is nice but it’s not going to stop what’s happening. A centered person who examines his life won’t stop the next cop from killing someone. It won’t stop the next rape or the next man who beats his children. Taking care of oneself is not the answer. It’s not thinking about oneself and thinking about others and what one can do to help overcome injustice that will matter in the end. At least that’s the way I see it. One has to give up individual ego and do what is necessary to help the people in pain. We need to look outward, not inward. We need to include others, not concentrate on ourselves. That’s the only way we have a chance.

    • I agree Gigi. Each person has to let go of their ego and overcome their inherent prejudices. Perhaps I am being naive. I think we need to contemplate, meditate, reflect, etc. on our words and actions. Paulo Freire argued praxis is not just practice (words and actions). It is continously moving from the reflective to the reflexive. In French, the word reflexive overlaps the both the reflective and practices, linking it with an embodied wisdom (phronesis). I don’t think we can simply look outward. I have to turn inward and back outward as part of my performative lived-experience, per Judith Butler. Parker Palmer likens this to a Mobius strip where there are no boundaries and it is fluid. You are right, If I remain exclusively within myself, I end up in a narcissistic place, only gazing at my reflection in the pool. Where has that got us to date? Where we are.

  2. I guess each of us gets to where we’re going our own way. What works for one, doesn’t work for the other. It’s always been that way. I’ve talked with so many people over the years and I realize that we can never understand each other. How can we, we are all so different. We can agree that we are all different, and go on our merry way, but as for understanding…never really going to happen.

    The peaceful demonstrators are doing the right thing. They are taking action. Without action, nothing will ever change. Not ever. Talking, reading, meditating, changes nothing. Getting into the street, or speaking out, writing about what is taking place, does. Even if it only changes minds.

    You quote passages from books that I tear books apart. We all cite other people/authors, etc. But the ideas of others, are there to also show us how wrong the others were. How crippling they are, where all the hatred and problems came from. Other people, different times, patriarchy, people left out. We need new stories that aren’t coming from male domination in all of it’s forms. Because history automatically taints and carries systemic hatred and injustice with it, even when it is seeming invisible.

    I was also a teacher. I taught students to find the things that hold things in place, so that we can’t move forward, to see the prejudice and poison in what was being said. I taught them to look at the lives of the authors who beat their wives and did horrible things. I taught them not to make heroes out of people like Hemingway, who said that women need to be slapped around. His words came from woman hating and people need to know that too.

    I taught them to question everything. Taught them to think for themselves and never take things at face value. I taught them to always ask one question: WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM?” Things always look different when you ask that question, whether it’s about politics, religion, or just someone you know. Question Authority. Question everything.

    • What you beatifully describe here is Socratic skepticism, which always begins with the self. What holds me back from helping make the world a better place? It is interesting you mention looking at the lives of authors. I do the same and suggest to students they look at those lives. Knowing Heidegger was not a good man in many ways helps me keep that at the forefront when I write using his words.

      Gigi, what I enjoy most about your comments is they make me think about what I write, say, and how I act. They leave me, I hope, a better person in my reflections, better able to speak, write, and act with lovingkindness and compassion.


  4. What's Happening Ohio

    While this is all well and good, for that’s happening now what could help is while going off to meditate and think that one thinks about what is happening and why. And if one is unsure or doesn’t understand then start up a dialog with someone who can answer your questions or show you what you have not seen or been blind to. Then again, a lot of people are tired of explaining over and over again the same thing and getting in return the same thing!

    • I agree we need a dialogic and action based approach. Paulo Freire used the word “praxis” as a way to move continuously from theory/meditative stances to practical and ethical action. It is not enough to simply listen and talk. We need more. I hope this is the beginning of productive, ethical, and democratic action.

  5. 🙏🏻 Blessings

  6. wonderful post , many great ideas, very well advices .Ego is the reason for failure too.


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