I wrote this piece two summers ago, in response to the shootings in Charleston, SC. Two days post election and the talk of race and equality (or inequality) are once again front and center. Our country is divided and frustrated. I wanted to republish this piece because I feel the core message is as important as it was two years ago. I will be posting a follow-up piece to this tomorrow.
When I sat down to develop my blog this week, my first thought was that there is very little I can add to the greater commentary, (in light of the recent killings of nine, innocent worshipers in Charleston, SC), on the topics of race relations and gun violence in this country. The pain felt by the families of those who perished at the hands of a 21-year old sociopath cannot be eased by our continuing debate.
But I want to redirect our attention above the fray of popular media and politics, to a meta-theme that needs to be revealed and shared among those of us in community looking for answers. A theme that goes straight to the root cause of our sociopathic behavior. A theme, not about who’s right or wrong, but about what we’ve become.
I am talking about our collective disconnectedness from everything and everyone.
Our disconnection – as in we are disconnected from – our fellow men and women, our families, our communities, our past and most importantly, ourselves. A dis-association that allows us to exist, not as whole beings, but as desperate, separate individuals.
A splinter instead of a tree.
I draw this out because I feel the need to highlight how our media driven society looks to sensationalize and expose this decay in glorious light. Each killing of an innocent (whether they be a young black man in America, or the religious fueled genocide of ISL) is vulgarized in sound bytes and high definition, complete with experts, eye witnesses, video, chat rooms and social media. The fundamental issue, lost in the emotion and diatribe that follows. We can and will continue to maim, kill, denigrate and destroy every living thing around us as long as we continue to live our lives disconnected, disassociated and numb.
Don’t misunderstand me. Race relations and gun control are important conversations; all inclusive conversations. Our words, of pain and disgust, must echo through our churches, mosques, temples, universities, state capitals, community centers and homes. But I see them as only symptoms of something deeper and darker brewing within our societies.
Symptoms fueled by our deep separation and isolation.
I believe it is time to start examining a new direction of self-responsibility necessary to begin the reversal of our “communal” madness. We have to begin to ask ourselves – why do I believe I am separate, different and alone? We must look to reconnect – putting away the constructs and beliefs that burden us and keep us separate. Understanding that we are together, by design, on this very small planet, in this very finite time.
What I do to you, I do to myself.
This will take a shift. A change in our very character. But only then, will racial indifference and violence begin to fade from our collective psyche. The fear and hate – bi-products of our disconnection – are tempered by a communal movement that is inclusive of everyone. No one left behind. We can speak to that which makes us blind to the needs and suffering of others.
A space of non-judgement.
A movement that turns away from holding others accountable and embrace the power of I as in “I am a person of great quality”. A movement that reconnects what has so long been disconnected. A movement that is personal, heart felt and sincere.
So how do we do this? The first step is self initiated, as in me and not as in you or them. I, we becoming accountable to the greater whole. Next we must heal the “old wounds” of injustice. We must offer apologies and action to those who have so long suffered the oppression of race and color. This is not about thinking or talking, but about doing. When each of us as an individual begins to look inside for the will and wanting to be a part of something greater, we will then see an end to such unnecessary sadness. No more violence. No more killings.
What I do to you, I do to myself.