Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, June 19, 2020! Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
Though there is obviously still much work to be done regarding equality, I write this in recognition of Juneteenth. And, while I can’t control how you respond to anything I say or write, it is my sincere hope that you don’t feel that today’s title is in bad taste, makes light of, disrespects or minimizes the Black Lives Matter campaign.
When it first started and until I learned more about Black Lives Matter, I was one of those touting “All Lives Matter.” At that time, I wasn’t aware of the deeper meaning. What I realize today is that not all lives have been dehumanized, oppressed, subjugated, tyrannized, violently persecuted and subjected to segregation like Black lives have [and still are] in the short history of our Country (This obviously holds true with other races!). Black Lives Matter!
Here in 2020, we are again being called upon to address the systemic racism and inequalities entrenched in our society. Though our laws supposedly prohibit such maltreatment, the injustice continues. It appears that just because we know better and have laws prohibiting discrimination, this in no way suggests that we will act equitably. Although I’m inspired to continue writing about what is happening all around us, I feel it’s useful and productive to focus more on what’s happening within us.
It’s my experience that when I investigate and understand the mistreatment that I impose upon myself, I see with more wisdom and clarity why we as a Nation are still in a stupor of inaction regarding justice and equality for all.
In doing this mindfulness work and observing people, I see how so many of us struggle with being true to ourselves. I had a touching conversation with someone this week who reminded me of just how unfairly we sometimes treat ourselves.
Consumed with our roles and responsibilities, we spread ourselves too thin; we don’t always eat right; we don’t exercise as much as we like; we sacrifice our well-being for hedonic pleasures; we tend to believe the stories that we tell ourselves about what kind of person we are; we sometimes feel that we are unique; we feel superior – that we can handle whatever we’re getting ourselves in to. Three of these unhealthy characteristics are the very same conditions that give rise to racism: prejudice, othering, and superiority. When I think deeply about this, I have little doubt as to why there is still so much racism. The conditions reside within each one of us.
How many times have you exploited yourself? How many jobs have you become a slave to? How many times have you compromised your own values for the benefit of someone or something else? Are you living an illusory story that you believe about yourself? Do you have a sense that you’re somehow different? How many times have you done something that you knew wasn’t healthy? Though we know better, in trying to arrange, manage, accomplish, provide, and find peace and happiness, we just don’t care for ourselves as if Our Life Matters.
Your Life Matters! But are you treating yourself as if it does?
If you reflect on your life, can you confidently say that you care for yourself in a way that is respectful of your rare and precious human life? I haven’t always, but I’m learning. Can you honestly say that you treat yourself as lovingly and kindly as you would a dear friend or family member? I Can’t! Do you believe that your life is equally as important as another’s? Yes. Then why can’t I (we) act like it?
I spent years both in and out of academia trying to understand the environment, social justice issues and many of the other problems that we’re confronted with today. Though these are a highly complex problems founded on years of causes and conditions, I’m discovering that some answers to our quandaries lie within. If we know that we should make healthier and more beneficial decisions for ourselves and neglect to do so, is it hard to imagine why the laws written to protect people are broken? It’s no wonder that we force people into unsustainable lifestyles – coercing them to work impossible hours and denying them healthy food. We do this to ourselves! If we can’t care for ourselves as equals, then how can we possibly overcome the disparities in how we (as a Nation) treat one another? We give away what we have. A bottom line for me is that we treat ourselves and each other differently despite knowing that we are all equal.
My daily mindfulness practice has helped me to recognize the differences between what I believe is true and how I act. Some of the hardest work I’ve ever done is learning to act in alignment with what I believe - becoming whole – living with integrity – getting my act together. My practice helps me to continue to identify and work to overcome years of conditioning. Our Country, just like me, is a work in progress. So, let’s continue to progress!
Your Life Matters, I love you, and there isn’t anything that you can do about it!
Black Lives Matter,
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