Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Blowin' In the Wind - Love from Hate

Just before turning in for the night of June 17, I learned of yet another act against innocent
people having a prayer meeting in their church.  The perpetrator: a 21 year old white man; the victims: all black in a predominately black church, long a symbol for the people of Charleston.  The young man, Dylann Roof, came into the church, sat with the members attending a Bible study for about an hour, and then the shooting began.  I was reduced to tears when the reports started coming in and felt I could not take any more bad news about human beings having so little consideration for other human beings.

According to reports, Dylann Roof’s intention was to start a “race war”.  But he did not know nor understand the trends of our present day world that tell us, despite the media’s constant bombardment of all that is evil in our world and the items they use to distract us, that people everywhere are tuning in to the need to embrace each other as brothers and sisters and to realize that we are all human beings and basically want the same things. Nor did he realize that he set in motion events to bring people even closer together rather than to divide them in a war that can never be won.

In the days since this event took place, I have been overwhelmed by the response to this tragedy. Was it possible that through this act of intense hate, a message of love would be revealed?  As each day has unfolded, my question has been answered and the answer is a resounding YES!  Nine precious souls were required to sacrifice their lives, and they did not sacrifice in vain. These brave men and women laid down their lives to enable us to look hate in the face and have the opportunity to answer it with love.

In honor of these nine brave souls, I share 5 positive outcomes that have been observed as a result of this act intended to divide us in hatred.

1. The abandonment of the confederate flag. Dylann Roof used the confederate flag as a symbol of racism.  This flag has long been a point of contention in the South.  It was basically created as a battle flag for one of the Virginia armies during the Civil War.  The main issue in the Civil War was the disagreement over the right to own slaves.  Once civil rights were passed many years later, many southern states used this flag as a symbol to oppose integration.  In the fight against racism, this flag has been allowed to fly for too long.  And the one place it does still fly is at the State Capitol in South Carolina.  This week, as a result of this young man’s hatred, Nikki Haley, the governor of SC, has called for the removal of this worn out symbol.  Not only will that flag be removed, but retailers such as Walmart and Sears have announced that they will no longer sell it.  

2. Unity. The Emanuel AME Church did not close up or back down in fear. Instead, they
inspired the nation by exemplifying love, peace, and forgiveness. On the Sunday following the shooting, the church doors opened for services. Other churches in the area joined in with their
directive to ring bells at 10 a.m. and then many walked to the church where they stood outside as there was no room inside. I have a friend that lives in Charleston and participated in this moving event.  Some of these photographs are from her experience. No, she is not black. In fact, look closely at these photos and others that are available on the internet. You will see that there are all types of people present….old, young, black, white, male, female…if only we could look at each other without assigning one of these labels!

3. Forgiveness. At the hearing on Friday, June 19, several of the victims’ family members were present and addressed Dylann Roof.  The message was the same from each:  I forgive you and am praying for you.  What enlightened souls they must be.  Even in the wake of loss, they did not forget their mission of love, nor the mission of their loved ones now departed.

4. Peace. On Sunday evening, June 21, thousands gathered to march across Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel, Jr.bridge in a show of solidarity.  They filled up 2 miles in the “Bridge to Peace Unity Chain”.  What a beautiful show of brotherhood. This is us, the American people, coming together to say we have had enough…enough killing, enough hatred, enough division. 
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Tucker Bowman

5. Love. Social media has been full of uplifting quotes and expressions of love pertaining to this event. Civil Rights have only taken us so far. Racism is alive and well.  Each of us must do our part.  Call out those that speak despairingly about others.  Stand up for your race….the Human race…and see each person as your brother and sister.  Yes, even Dylann Roof.  Pray for him and those like him. Address any prejudice in your own heart.  Sit with it.  Observe how it made its way there.  Then love it so much that it dissolves into love itself.  

This old folk song is as relevant now as it was in the 60’s, if not more so.  I could not help but hear it playing in my head over these past few days.  (PS – the answer is LOVE.)

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Songwriters: Bill Sherrill and Charlie Rich

Monday, June 8, 2015

We the People

We The People
Rarely ever do I speak out on the subject of politics.  As Leon Russell says in his song, “Magic Mirror”, “the left ones think I’m right, and the right ones think I’m wrong” which I think basically means that no one can agree. However, today I feel compelled to speak out.

 For many years, I have felt that our bipartisan system is just too extreme, and no one attempts to compromise and come to a middle ground for the good of all.  As a matter of fact, it seems no one can agree on what is for the good of all, so we head to our perspective corners with our arms crossed.

With the advent of social media, this situation seems to keep getting worse and worse.  And we, the American people, seem to care less and less.  We allow laws to be made and enacted that we would never support!  But we just get so tired of it all, that we become complacent.  Our forefathers were not complacent!  If they had been, we certainly would not have the country we have today.  Even with all of the issues we have right now, it is still a great country which affords us freedoms for which so many long.

Our media bombards us with hype on a day to day basis.  It encourages polarization between races, genders, sexual orientations, religion, and the haves and have nots.  Our middle class is all but dissolved.  All we hear and see gives rise to us taking a strong position on one side or the other of this fence.  It is often presented to us to cause emotionally charged stances, rather than middle-of-the-road solutions.  

It is time to WAKE UP!  These “issues” with which the media is bombarding us are just distracting us from focusing on the real challenges.  While we are now aware of everything about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, we are not focused on demanding labeling for our foods.  While we have decided where fault lies between George Zimmerman and Treyvon Martin, we are supporting people that are being bought and sold by companies that support fossil fuel usage.  We are complacent about abuse of people and animals in our country.  The media twists and turns and spins stories that merely serve to distract us from our larger problems:  food, energy; infrastructure; compassion; healthcare; and making this country a leader in education, invention, and progress.

Marianne Williamson ran for a seat in congress in California.  Although she lost, she introduced something very important into our vocabulary:  politics of consciousness or politics of the heart.  This is our future.  We must come together to create laws that help sustain our foods by forcing labeling and stopping the use of GMO’s.  (www.nongmoproject.org)  We must come together to elect officials to implement sustainable energy options.  We must come together for alternatives to fossil fuel transportation which are already out there! We must come together for healthcare, not for pharmaceutical or insurance companies to get rich, but for real cures for our disease-ridden people! We must come together to force investment in our children’s education…not as sheep that can pass a test, but thinkers, doers, inventors.  No matter what your political preference, aren’t these issues upon which we can all agree?

By coming together on these and other important issues, by replacing many of our political “leaders” from those that are merely “yes men” for large corporations, and by living from our hearts, we will by default become more tolerant of each other and our differences.  If we work side by side to change this country from a country of sleeping victims to a country of promoters of positive change, our differences will no longer seem so great, but instead WE THE PEOPLE will bring about a new paradigm that can move us into a future of promise, of freedom, of tolerance, of peace.  

Here is a small list of some things you can do to support making a difference!  Most of all, live mindfully and go where your heart leads you.
1.    Reuse/recycle
2.    Call your local leaders and express your concerns
3.    VOTE for politicians intent on positive change
4.    Collect food for foodbanks/take leftovers to a soup kitchen
5.    Adopt/rescue/foster/donate to animals
6.    Grow a garden/support your local farmer’s market
7.    Stop using plastic bags/bottles
8.    Become a mentor for a child
9.    SMILE – give at least one away every day
10. Be the change you wish to see in the world (Gandhi)