I woke up this morning and shortly thereafter, “All We Are Saying Is Give Peace a Chance” was playing in my head. I still miss John Lennon. He was a messenger, another man born before his time whose life was cut short because of it. I walked a couple of times in peaceful protests against the Vietnam War and we sang those words, “All we are saying is give peace a chance,” over and over. The marches were heartfelt by those longing for a shift in consciousness from warring to side-by-side peaceful living. It IS disappointing that all these years later, we are worn down by the lies, cruelty, power-hunger, racist autocratic behavior and thoughtlessness of those in power in the U.S., but they are precisely why it is NOT time to lie down. We need to take to the streets, peacefully and powerfully, letting them know we refuse to accept their darkness. They will either wake up to their own light within, or leave.
That is our power–if we first commit to finding peace within. It’s the only way; peace doesn’t come from outside of us. And peace has to be more important than our pride, positions or personal beliefs. We need to believe that everyone deserves to live in peace, and we have to speak up. I don’t know how to ‘overthrow’ those who press down other people for financial gain or utilizing some ‘ism,’ but Gandhi did and so did Martin Luther King, Jr. Peaceful, centered-in-love, protest is a more powerful force than tanks and guns and ammo—hands down. We just have to want to live in peace with all our hearts and to desire the same for others.
It’s hard not to think about the anger exhibited across our country now, on both sides of the political fence. If some force IS trying to divide our nation, it’s doing a darn good job. In my town, several of eighty protesters were recently arrested in a run-in with cops. This after 15,000 diverse people marched together peacefully on January 21st.
I realize how different their angry words and actions were from Martin Luther King’s non-violent protests. Can you imagine what would’ve happened to the all-persons-are-equal-movement if African-Americans, and those of the same mind, had marched through the streets angrily shouting with bullhorns and waving damning signs? We have a very long way to go on the issue of racism but if MLK Jr. had led angry mobs, we would’ve gone backward, maybe even further back than to the days of slavery. In order to be effective when working for positive change, we set out from a peaceful place of understanding that all points of view must be represented and that compromises will be made. When our motives are sincere and not selfish, good change happens.
As for the issue of everyone (except those earning the minimum wage) paying taxes, we live in a great country made of people who have always known the importance of public education and transportation, of health care and Social Security retirement, of the roads that connect our states, and of a strong military to protect our country. We are blessed to live here and to do our part for our country–and to share with those who have not been as fortunate as us, who only need a hand up. We need to remember that until we have listened to another’s story, we usually don’t know what we’re talking about. Let’s make peace, not war.
Making our country a better place really is a group project.
Stored in our hearts is our own part to play, our piece of the Creator’s patchwork quilt that cannot be completed without us.
Hearts full of delight will run on ahead, and others will wait at the end of the line for stragglers.
Some hearts will know how to clean the air, others the water, and still others how to repair the forests and ecosystems. It will seem like magic, because it is.
Some will pass out blankets for the journey; others will cause manna to fall from the sky.
The peacemakers will lead and inspire us, while some will choose mischief.
We each have tasks to complete and truly, no task is better than the other, for we’re all in this together.
We’re all in this together.
We’re all in this together.
We’re all in this together.
Michael Whaley, a black former Marine, says in this video America should be one family, like the armed services he was a member of. He says that the Black Lives Matter movement promotes racism, which it probably does in some places. I agree with Michael that we should feel we are all one family and I wish everyone was as enlightened as he is. But there is a thread that runs through our country–such as KKK members who say black people are descended from animals–that is filled with hate, suspicion and fear aimed at black people, and this causes disproportionate dangers and harm to them. Of course all lives matter–that is God’s Word–but saying that to a black person when he says “Black Lives Matter” is ignoring what every black person must face every day when he or she walks out the door: “Will I be attacked in some way today because of the color of my skin?”
I was at the grocery store one day when a tattooed white man with a shaved head turned on a black woman in the line and raised his fist and shouted very offensive names at her I won’t repeat here–just because of the color of her skin. His face was red with rage and his veins were visibly pulsing. Everyone was scared. I can’t imagine how she felt. I don’t know where the courage came from–I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that there were many people in the store–but I stepped out of line and said, “Sir, that’s not necessary.” He looked at me, turned and kept shouting. I said it again and again until he finally stared at me, turned and left the store. I know those words sound lame, but they were the exact words needed for him to stop shouting. The woman waited for me to come outside and thanked me. I felt so bad that she had to carry the burden of not knowing when the next person would turn on her–and that’s how it is for every dark-skinned person in America today. Yes, we have come far from slavery and yes, also, we have far to go.
I joined the prayer vigil today from San Diego online and it is my sincere prayer that we Americans will begin a dialogue that includes a meaningful change in how black people are seen and treated in America. We all need to look at our own prejudices and decide to grow–especially our police who are charged with watching over us, because they can cause such great harm in just a few seconds. With the power of life or death comes great responsibility. And we must stand up to the hate groups in this country that fan racist flames. Here is a link to a list of them–892 of them: Map of Hate Groups in America. They are real and they would tear our country apart if they could. All lives do matter, every single one, for inside each of us is a soul striving upward and it is our job to help each other, not mow each other down. There is something of great value here worth fighting for.
We all have a tendency to suspect people and things that are different from ourselves. (Maybe this is a remnant of an innate instinct for survival. If so, only a shift in consciousness will cause us to look deeper.)
The thing is, it’s too easy to not listen to each others’ stories and label others and their behaviors with overused, derisive names. And in the face of blow-back, politicians have learned how to promote our suspicions of others using suggestive words, instead of the stereotypes. They know us well–there’s always been mistrust between generations, but in our time, the race, religious and political issues have intensified beyond anything we could ever imagine. Why is that? Why don’t we respect and listen to each other? This rejection of ‘the other’ only fuels hatred and the destruction born from it.
Why is it so important that my opinion, or yours, be shouted above all others? When we’re harsh, critical and judgmental reflexively, why can’t we see it? Why has being pompous and “right” become more important than seeing the truth–and the solutions to our problems? Where have all the thoughtful people, the peacemakers, gone?
It’s easy enough in this world to believe we’re not living a life, a human story, that matters. But think about it—think about the enormous potential within all of us for love and goodness and compassion. Think about family and good friends and how the circles grow larger and more inclusive as we live out the course of our lives. Think about how complex each human being is, and how we are all so much more than our sexual preference or our politics.
We each make such a powerful difference in the world–our thoughts and actions building our lives–and we may not even know it. Let us find precious seeds of hope within ourselves and spread some of that magic at this most needed time.
Live and love in peace, and bless others so they may share in the same. It’s why we are here.
My gratitude to this lovely website for the prayer below: http://www.tarralight.com/prayer_for_peace.html
As the fever of the day calms toward twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.
We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.
For those who risk their lives
each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence
at the heart of history.
That those who make riches
from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams
the cries of the lost.
That we might see through
our fear of each other
A new vision to heal
our fatal attraction to aggression.
That those who enjoy
the privilege of peace
Might not forget their
tormented brothers and sisters
That the wolf might lie down
With the lamb,
That our swords be beaten
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.
~ John O’Donohue ~