The “…inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic human force, one which is enriching rather than threatening to the defined self…” is the root of human prejudice. — Audre Lorde
Back in 2017, Martha Beck shared a wonderful video that demonstrates the power of those at the “so-called” bottom of the pyramid to create social and humanitarian “evolution” by dissolving the base of those with all the power. Here is that video:
It has taken COVID-19 to be the tipping point to see beyond the pandemic as a health crisis alone.
Sometimes we need to experience the bleakest and darkest of times in order to evoke the greatest transformation. In our individual lives, this is sometimes called a “dark night of the soul.” The world is experiencing a collective dark night, but I am asking you to not despair for too long. The longer you despair, the less likely you are to get up and move into action.
Action requires movement.
Emotions require movement.
I recognize that coping with all of the stress that is happening might be too much for some people. Do what you can to cope and seek the help you need from who and where you can.
If you can take action, combine your intention to be a part of the solution with emotions with action.
Go beyond sharing a meme or a hashtag. Get on-the-ground involved by partaking, participating, protesting, voting, signing a petition, donating money or your time to an appropriate organization, which is how you become part of the solution and part of this new and hopefully radical social evolution in its early beginnings.
Yes… you can get angry. That’s okay and you shouldn’t deny that emotion.
Yes… you are allowed to be sad. Seek empathy and understanding from others.
But attempt to limit your experience of those feelings to a short period of time. Acknowledge what you are feeling to choose more pro-active emotions like compassion and empathy. Notice that you can choose your emotions to change the way you want to feel, to take the kind of action that will help create the change you want to see in the world.
Be mindful that taking action is doing something that potentiates real, measurable change for the better.
For example, I didn’t post anything on social media related to the trending hashtag #BlackOutTuesday this past Tuesday, June 2nd for the same reason offered by Lil Nas X:
“i just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever.”
Now, more than ever, we need to be conscientious of our conscious-awareness
In other words, words matter. You cannot speak for someone else’s experience and we cannot lump everyone into a melting pot — which I think is a philosophical failure of the United States, but I digress. We need to be cognizant and actively conscious of our word choices, the meaning, stigma, and history that some words carry, and our perceptions of how we think things are that may be out of alignment with this social evolution we are currently witnessing.
Here’s a simple example from Instagram:
Many of us are trapped within the framing of how those in power want our society to function.
As Brené Brown shared in this post, the system is not broken, rather, “the system is working exactly how it was designed.” So when someone says, “It’s terrible the police killed George Floyd, but protestors shouldn’t be burning buildings and destroying property,” they are missing the more important value of human life. We have been conditioned as part of an extremely capitalistic society to prioritize possessions over life and to accept ourselves as “human commodity” to be used and used up as part of big business.
The wisdom of the Tao offers an elegant perspective that speaks remarkably well to the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd:
“When rich speculators prosper
while farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn —
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.”
— Verse 53, Tao Te Ching. Tr. Stephen Mitchell
There comes a time to do whatever it takes, without shame, to put a full-stop to bigotry, oppression, racial discrimination, gender and sexual prejudice, and to dissolve corrupt leadership in the form of government and big business to create a more civilized society, one that will no longer tolerate laws and dogma that seeks to control the masses for the personal gain of the few.
This selfish desire for personal gain includes one of my pet-peeves.
The “robbery and chaos” of the Tao applies to celebrity adoration, so-called Instagram influences, and social media thirst-traps. Under capitalism, humans exploit other humans, whether that be boasting about what someone has (money, cars, homes, a 6-pack), or using other human beings as slave labour in the myriad of ways that plays out in our society that creates even more division between the majority.
Your silence will not protect you
It’s relevant to consider the complete quotation I used in the opening of this post:
“RACISM: the belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance.
SEXISM: the belief in the inherent superiority of one sex and thereby the right to dominance.
HETEROSEXISM: the belief in the inherent superiority of one pattern of loving and thereby its right to dominance.
HOMOPHOBIA: the fear of feelings of love for members of one’s own sex and therefore the hatred of those feelings in others.
The above forms of human blindness stem from the same root — an inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic human force, one which is enriching rather than threatening to the defined self, when there are shared goals.”
— “Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving” by Audre Lorde in, “Your Silence Will Not Protect You.”
If we are to save ourselves as a species, if we want to live full, healthy, meaningful, and joyful lives, we need to recognize the value of every single human being on this planet.
We can no longer tolerate a system of capitalism that allows one person to become a trillionaire.
We can no longer tolerate political systems that permit sociopathic dictators to destroy society and harm the planet.
We can no longer tolerate the fundamentalist ideologies of extreme religions that enforce violent prejudice (sometimes resulting in murder), hatred, oppression, and patriarchal dominance.
We can no longer tolerate abusing and consuming our planet — the very source that gives us life — with such blissful arrogance and contempt.
When we, to paraphrase Lorde, understand and embrace difference as uniqueness, we will potentiate an evolution of human spirit and creativity based on compassion; one that will foster a humanity of oneness and dissolve of our current state of separation from each other (the ego) and the natural order of things (the Tao).
Post Script: How have I been wrong, arrogant, ignorant, and mis-guided?
My intention for this post was not to preach. I have had to eat my share of “humble pie” over the years, and without getting into the really ugly, I have shared my new perspectives and “enlightenment” as they have shown up. Here are a few examples for your “enjoyment.”