Slow Down. Learn. Wake Up and Do What ONLY YOU Can Do to Save the World.
Brussels is in lockdown following explosions that killed dozens last night. ISIS is claiming responsibility.
This morning, The Dallas Morning News reported on a Frisco, TX football coach who resigned in January after threatening black and Latino athletes: “You see that rope over there, you see that tree back there? I’m going to hang you in that tree. I’m going to hang you by your toes.”
And throughout the day, the most hostile presidential race in my lifetime will roil on.
There seems so much to be said. In order to correct. In order to salvage. In order to survive.
The problem: Too much is being said, at least by the people who have the most power on the planet. And, actually, I am among them. People who have ready access to food, water, shelter, money, clothes, computers, televisions, cars. We are not bad people. But we are not listening.
We are dangerously unconscious. Wrapped in what Ta-Nehisi Coates rightly describes as the Dream. It is the dream perpetuated by those of us who benefit most from the systems in place in our country and world. Education systems, economic systems, justice systems, bias systems. At worst this trance state enables us to ignore or deny the pain experienced by people who cannot escape realities of terror. At best, the trance mutes understanding to the act of kind-hearted worry equated with the thought we’ve done something.
This is a hard lesson for us. We who have the most have forged governments and policies and deep beliefs that we are somehow immune to the vulnerability of being human. We simply don’t yet have the skills for seeing that while our lives are made more comfortable, these systems exact cost and discomfort to others. Operations that seem normal and standard to us deny both support and respect to others who also work within them. But, unlike we who benefit, these others pay with dignity, with lower income, with greater stress-related illness, with being on the receiving end of disrespect, even violence.
In the long course of investigating my own benefiting, I have come to see the primary variable that inhibits waking from the Dream involves a simple but tenacious pairing.
TWIN 1: A deep personal desire and motive to be known, if not as good, at least as right. My conclusion is that, at its base, this desire arises from the fact of our mortality. We want to be good and right enough to avoid — or at minimum, to delay — death. This requires dreaming. It requires living in trance.
TWIN 2: An attendant and nagging fear of being, in fact, essentially bad. If I am essentially bad, there’s no guarantee of being right and thus, no possibility for avoiding, delaying, or denying death.
People who have no choice to be part of the Dream do not have the luxury of pretending death away. It is a constant companion. And, the truth: Death is always a constant companion, no matter the Dream. But the agreement among those of us who benefit is to sustain the systems with a firm belief in our deserved qualification to be more insulated from death, more comfortable in our mortal skin. We do this by allowing others to continue uncomfortable.
How does the Dream link with today’s world events? You must investigate that for yourself. Slow down. Learn how life is different for anyone who is not you. Consider the possibility of your benefitting at an immediate and systematic cost to others. Check your integrity – the match between what you and only you can know as your deepest values and the way you act.
It’s your investigation. Between you and yourself. Your behaviors in the world (with yourself, with loved ones, with the other people whose paths you cross) are all you have. Those behaviors can perpetuate trance or challenge it.
Waking up from the Dream requires your coming to full and stark understanding of what has always been. You are related to all that is. You will die. Your life is precious. All life is precious.
Each of us has the right and responsibility to refuse any further participation in terror (toward others or ourselves), in racism or oppression of any kind (toward others or ourselves), in superiority, hostility and ill will (toward others or ourselves).
The decision, in every case, is only yours.