Thursday, June 4, 2020

Reckoning


As a man identified as white, I will admit - with shame - that I have been silent. I have witnessed racism and not spoken. Whether out of discomfort or fear of confrontation, that ends now.

In order to contribute Good to our collective, shared reality, we need to implement a zero tolerance policy. This needs to be done in our schools - and it makes me sad to say that it needs to start in pre-school. This needs to be done at gatherings of family and friends, in every place of work and commerce, and it needs to be done in our every exchange.

The anger right now is a justified and needed tool offered for all of humanity.

In order to bring forth the inherent equity of every One, we must acknowledge sovereignty. We are sovereign in our nature. We are sovereign in our ability to change and effect change. We are sovereign even when we cannot express it. Even when we are suppressed and oppressed. Even when we are violated. Even when our life is ended against our will. Sovereignty does not require acknowledgment to be real. It inherently is.

Of course, when sovereignty is disregarded or disrespected or violated, it is painful. It is sad. It is unacceptable. But it is real nonetheless. The sun does not need to be respected for its light and warmth, the earth does not need to be respected (or protected) as the source of life, the moon does not need respect for overseeing our oceans’ tides, in order for it all to be true.

Certainly consequences come from the resulting pain of actions that attack or violate sovereignty, but actions and consequences are separate from sovereignty. Even when a life has been disgustingly snuffed out. I say this with certainty, because we must honor that sovereignty exists beyond anyone’s recognition of it.

And if (and unfortunately when) we witness a challenge to the natural sovereignty of any individual, we need to meet such a challenge with dismissal. It is not ok. It has never been ok. The attempted reduction of another sovereign being - be it through violence, through words, or societal programming, is barbaric and born out of evil. Humanity is not served by barbarism and we can reject it. It has gone on long enough.

I say ‘attempted reduction’ because it is just that: attempted. We can violate, we can dehumanize, we can restrict - and the impact of those sorts of actions is real and huge; but, ‘inherent’ also means just that... No one can diminish your sovereignty.

But freedom is another issue. Freedom can be controlled. Freedom can be culturally, economically, and physically taken away. We all have a responsibility to ensure it does not.

What is true within One is true within all.

So yes, the change begins within you, especially if you find yourself more of a horrified observer (or activist, or ally) than a victim, but it also requires systemic change. The adjustments needed to our socio-political-economic systems will not be made just from awakening to the collective reality. They will require overt action. And if, by chance, you feel uncertain about the next steps forward, do - please - start with yourself.

Hold your sovereignty in the dismissal of that which is evil, of that which is counterproductive to the inherent sovereignty of all...of ways of thinking and operating that are now irrelevant. Hold your sovereignty and find your strength in order to even begin to meet the strength that has been especially required any one that has systemically been forced to worry about functioning or existing in society - so that you can be a harbinger of the change that, unless it comes, will degrade us all in God’s eyes.

The above photo, by Jeff Malet, is from the dance “A Tribute to Marian Anderson”, which my husband and his amazing dance company (Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company) premiered in February at The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

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