The Power of Peaceful Protest

1 b

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.

Advertisements

Why Not Make a Difference?

Rundown white house, no glass on windowsDo you shudder and turn away from people struggling to survive, flipping past the TV commercials about the desperate lives led by people who have little or no access to clean water, food or shelter?

In the 1950s parents often said, “Clean your plate. There are children starving all over the world.” Not understanding what this meant, I never told my children to eat because of starving people. Today I understand: We are all connected because we are all children of a Divine Creator.

Our consciousness is connected to hurting people, even if we don’t know or believe this, and they are connected to us as a part of their consciousness. We may turn away from pictures of their poverty; and they may feel every American is rich because our homes have piped-in water and electricity, with a nearby market in most neighborhoods.

To me, the most significant thing about the imbalance between the haves and the have-nots is that it is very difficult for people struggling to survive to evolve spiritually. They may not believe a benevolent Creator exists, or they may decide if there is one, they hate Him. I am sure some of them fall to their knees every night, praying for a break, a chance, for their families.

I don’t understand how capitalism came to be so warped and rewards so well the highly educated and the business-savvy, while leaving so many others behind, especially in America. There has to be a better way, a way of the heart with the head that acknowledges all people are sons or daughters of the Divine, and only need a hand up to transform their lives. To those who have so much more than you will ever need: Why not learn how to make a difference in the lives of those who long for only the most basic of needs? The rewards for ‘teaching them to fish’ are life-altering.

We Can’t Ignore the Reality of What It’s Like to Be Black in America

blackwomanMichael 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.

To Resist Racism, Hatred and Fear

alton-sterling_53a480b9c5015962d541aa27796f0494.nbcnews-fp-360-360

Alton Sterling was killed by police

One thing we can do to resist the poisons of racism, hatred and fear is to look within at our own fear of those different from ourselves, and then reach out with respect and kindness. Our individual thoughts and actions make a powerful difference to the whole. Another thing we can do is to speak up when we hear stereotyping and racist ideas. It takes courage, but it cancels the dark thoughts projected as truths. We can and do make a difference in what happens in the world.

A report from ABC news: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-shootings-black-men-stir-fears-anger-blacks-40419618

Restorative Justice in Oakland

Fania Davis,  YES! photo by Lane Hartwell

Fania Davis, YES! photo by Lane Hartwell

Nelson Mandela’s adage, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends” captures the profoundly inclusive nature of restorative justice (RJ).

The hallmark of RJ is intentionally bringing together people with seemingly diametrically opposed viewpoints—particularly people who have harmed with people who have been harmed—in a carefully prepared face-to-face encounter where everyone listens and speaks with respect and from the heart no matter their differences.

The talking piece is a powerful equalizer, allowing everyone’s voice to be heard and honored, whether that of a police officer, a judge, or a 14-year-old youth.

FOR THE FULL STORY, CLICK HERE:
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/where-dignity-is-part-of-the-school-day

The End of Intolerance

Intolerance pictureImagine the pain of being born into a body that is often a target of violence or torment: dark skin, too large, toothless; obviously disabled, diseased or homosexual; or simply being a child at the mercy of someone bigger and stronger than you. Most ‘light-skinned, right-sized’ people with no obvious differences will never understand what it is like to be hated or persecuted for the bodies we live in.

I’ve had African-American people, men, women and children, see me coming toward them as I walked my Akita-mix, Max, and move quickly away from us. “He won’t bite, I promise,” I said. One woman answered, “Uh, HUH,” and she crossed the parking lot. One man turned after I spoke and said, “Lady, when we see a white person with a dog, we know to get out of the way.” In high school, I read a book called Black Like Me. The journalist, who believed black people exaggerated their racial problems, died his skin black. I can’t remember how long he remained black, but he was shocked by how differently he was treated in the same places he had always hung out, and by the dangerous things that happened to him.

My friend, Anita, says that we each live at varying levels of awareness that are measured by how much we focus on ourselves, our thoughts and opinions, and our desires, and this determines whether or not we even see the needs of others. She’s right, of course, but don’t you wonder if we can do better? Underneath our skin, we’re all the same—same bones, muscles, organs and minds. We separate ourselves by race, country, religion, gender, education, and politics, but these are false barriers, for our bodies were all created by God, to be vehicles for the souls granted us by our loving Creator. This means we all carry within us the potential to be helpers and healers, peacemakers and way-showers to the place where there are no more broken hearts. When every human being on Earth is valued and all hearts are healed, we will know that God lives among us.

In times like ours, we must stand up for what is right. Intolerance must come to an end before peace can reign on Earth. And peace is our destiny.

A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice

Social-Justice-Pin

Join with these teachers and learn what social justice is and how to communicate about it. When we teach children that every human being is made in our Creator’s image, we’re helping to heal the world.

Click on: http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/social-justice-resources/

We Need Each Other

Group of KidsHow do we humans make real contact with each other? Isn’t that what life is all about, connection? Imagine if you woke up one day and after exploring your entire city, you found not one other person. Imagine you had access to every store, even all the banks. Would that matter if you had no one to share all the stuff with? Even the thrill of choosing any home you wanted wouldn’t last long.

Even if we don’t know it, it’s real contact, relationships, we long for. We need people to care whether we make it home or not, families to gather and celebrate with, friends to share experiences with, educators to teach us. We need to expand and grow and we can’t do it alone.

The scarier the world gets, the less we may trust—but that’s when we need each other the most. You and I are not so different from one another and neither is the person or group of people you least trust. We are all made of the same forces, both light and shadow, by the same Creator, and all of us have many mistakes to our credit. We are no saints and we cannot know the tragedies of ‘the other’s’ life until we walk in his shoes.

It does great harm to suspect someone of being evil or less than us because of the color of their skin or their religion or their sexual orientation. The world is a hard place right now. We can soften the whole system by expressing genuine interest and concern, by listening to ‘the other,’ and by extending a hand up if needed. It’s up to you and me to be the peacemakers the world so needs.

No Safe Place

No safe place artThe woman cradled her newborn son in her arms and knew she would never be the same. The world expanded around her and she momentarily saw into the future—his future. She saw his round face and bright smile that would light up her life. His eyes were clear and looked deeply into hers with limitless love and gratitude. “Thank you,” his eyes seemed to say, “for bringing me into this world. I waited a long time for the perfect family for me.”

The bubble around them closed and she was back in the hospital with her husband and young daughter. She looked at the tiny being in her arms and knew he was a special person who would make a difference in the world. She vowed then to keep her children safe from the darkness in her country that hunted them.

But the darkness was everywhere. She went for a walk with her infant in the stroller and her four-year-old daughter walking alongside her. A car sped by, obscenities spewing from it. She held her breath—she was too far now to get home. Thank God, they seemed to be gone. She heard the tires squeal and cringed inside. But she kept walking, her spine straight. The car screeched to a stop next to them and two young men with shaved heads and the same bandanas jumped out.

“Hey, (obscenity), who gave you permission to walk here? Get your (obscenity) ass outta here!” Continue reading