I spent a good part of this past week reflecting on why the Black Lives Matter Movement is, absolutely, necessary, at this moment in time, and what each of us can do, as individuals, to create a just and equitable society for every human.
This is, clearly, a time when every single one of us needs to stand (and, yes, speak up) against police brutality, racism, and bigotry (in all of its insidious forms, covert as well as overt). However, to do that, we need to first sit down (without ego) and listen. Listen to those black and brown voices of the community, who are impacted the most by injustice, and then follow their lead.
What I have consistently heard, over this past few weeks, is that they want advocates and witnesses, not saviors. Firstly, we (the white community) need to learn about, understand, and, take ownership of our history of slavery, why our attitudes about people of color are so deeply ingrained within our culture, and why as descendants of Europeans, we have privilege.
After this week of contemplation, I realized that the best way for me to contribute to this movement is to continue my work – educating myself, mentoring young people, creating a space where kindness and trust will always be the expected default mode, and, then writing about those experiences.
While thinking about all of this, I realized that in many cases, the things that I have written, in terms of self-directed education, also apply to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Several months ago, the blog post, Trust and Respect Go Hand in Hand, was focused on trusting kids.
... Trust and respect are tricky, and, hotly contested concepts, especially when referring to kids, teens, and young adults. We often hear: “I’ll trust them when they can prove to be trustworthy.” Or, “they have to earn my respect.”
My response will always be – “how can they prove themselves trustworthy if they are not trusted to begin with?” And, “how does someone know what respect looks or feels like when it is never freely given to them?”
Frankly - one cannot dictate responsible behavior with control and coercion. And, one cannot demand respect with threats and intimidation.
This post, from September, entitled Creative Thinking, highlighted the need for people who are creative problem-solvers in a society that embraces, and perpetuates the status quo.
... we have developed a system that specifically teaches conformity, obedience, and fear of anything that appears different. Consequently, our society is filled with people who are narrow-minded, uninspired, unimaginative, disengaged, disenfranchised, bored, and, yet, fearful of change.
With that being said, I constantly wonder (worry) how our world can move forward if we continue to train people to do the same thing, in the same way, over and over again, but, yet, expect different results? I ask this question in all seriousness; because that is how some people define insanity. (A quote often attributed to Einstein but not substantiated.)
And, this, from, Sharing Our Lives, a post I wrote way back in February of 2015, speaks about the South African concept of Ubuntu, which for me is the ultimate ideology.
Ubuntu is an ancient word from the Nguni Bantu people of South Africa which expresses a way of being that encompasses equality, equity, and compassion for all. The rough translation is human kindness, or, I am what I am because of who we all are. I understand it to mean - together we support one another to sustain the earth for every living thing. Can you imagine a more perfect word or concept?
Humans are social beings and we are biologically designed to share our knowledge and life experiences. It is an essential ingredient that allowed our ancient ancestors to survive. We all (modern humans) exist because of the core values that support Ubuntu.
I would like to argue that we can recapture the very spirit that allowed our humanness to evolve. We can each deliberately choose to embrace kindness, integrity, empathy, and honesty in all we do. With those intentions, we can create a world where everyone consciously supplements those individual, positive attributes with the all-encompassing Ubuntu spirit. We can decide to practice this philosophy without hesitation. When we do, the health and happiness of our neighbors and the greater world become more important than our individual desires.
Indeed, all of these concepts - trust, respect, curiosity, creativity, kindness, empathy, and Ubuntu, even though not explicitly stated in these posts, are inextricably tied to the Black Lives Matter Movement. And, as long as there is an urgent need for them to be highlighted and spoken about to combat racism and bigotry, I will.
*You will notice this is the same title as last week, with a notable twist. I thought it was appropriate to highlight the word "kind".