I have a daily reader I’ve worked with for many years, and this is today’s quote:
You menace others with your deadly fangs. In tormenting them, you are torturing yourselves.
In past years I have wanted to skip past readings such as today’s, as they left me feeling uncomfortable, and at times I didn’t know how to deal with the intensity of these words, because generally I have been taught to look past suffering. This year I am able to sit with this teaching and understand it as a way to look more deeply within, to see the injustice, fear & bias in my own mind, and to understand the way it works out in others.
I see that so much of the insanity of race is based in fear, the industry of poverty is based in greed, and the true wisdom of the heart is based in love. This is not love in a candy, Valentine’s sort of way, but in the love described by Dr. King, the love of a peaceful path of revolutionary practice. The love of Hashem, Ram, Hanuman, and the love of The Christ. The love of a parent. The love of a commitment to a path of progress and undoing that by its very force yields an opening, undoing, evolution, a shift. This love is a verb, is embodied, and it is in the present tense.
I see this action of love in the kneeling of Colin Kaepernick, in the voice of Keedron Bryant**, whose song, lyrics below and attached as a link to this post, is the mantra currently running through many minds, including mine, right now, and in the indelible wisdom of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s dear Madiba, to recognize, even in his jailers, a space of humanity, and a path of freedom from apartheid, a most vitriolic form of systemic fear, separateness & racism.
I think of the horrifying murders and lynchings of James Byrd, Jr., Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Amdaou Diallo, and so many other black men and women, and I say their names with this kind of love in my heart, and to let my community know that I do know, that I do care, that I am here, that I continue to understand my privilege, and that I will continue to actively utilize my precious life to bring connection and understanding to a world that needs it so much.
Let us see your fangs — do not hide them, for when they are shown they can be polished by the light of care & understanding. And, it’s ok to not know all these things about ourselves — Jung says the first half of our life is biographical, and the second half is autobiographical. Step into the darkness to give more depth and understanding to the light. Allow yourself to be received as you are — and let consciousness shine and dismantle the conscious and unconscious patterns of slave and master both internally and externally.
There is no panacea for the tremendous pain of our own creation — it is so deep, so insidious, so rooted in our psyche that we do not even realize how it motivates us (See generally the news), and also perhaps there are better micro and macro level changes and processes that can occur on the individual and collective levels to continue to heal (it is a process thank you social work friends!) this very broken society.
Know there is good work being done on a local level in each of our communities, and with the gift of each new day we can always start again and show up to serve in a place of, perhaps new, interest — if you are in Houston, please know about Houston Coalition Against Hate (HCAH) a network of community-based organizations, institutions, and leaders who come together to prevent hate and encourage belonging. Within the Coalition are organizations such as The Jung Center of Houston, Texas, Rothko Chapel, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, my friend Rev. James Caldwell’s Coalition of Community Organizations, dear Cherry Steinwender’s Center for the Healing of Racism, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Official Page), ADL Southwest, and 60+ others committed to this mission — reach out to these groups, join in on our conversations, engage directly, and allow the tears to flow and change to come.
Do not be afraid of the fangs, let them be our teachers of a different truth. They are a sign of fear & protection, they are an access point to the heart.
Links & additional info cited in this post:
*Jetsun Milarepa was a Tibetan siddhi, who famously was a murderer as a young man then turned to Buddhism to become an accomplished Buddhist disciple despite his past. He is generally considered one of Tibet’s most famous yogis and poets, serving as an example for the Buddhist life.
I’m a young black man doing all that i can to stand
oh but when i look around and I see what’s being done to my kind
everyday I’m being haunted as prey
my people don’t want no trouble
we’ve had enough struggle
i just wanna live
God protect me!
***Community Based Organizations in Houston
HCAH Houston Coalition Against Hate
Center for the Healing of Racism
The Jung Center of Houston, Texas
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Official Page)
Thank you for reading this post. I see you & I know you see me.