Take It to Heart

I’m taking it all to heart. Finding ways to make these cries for peace and justice real in my own life. What I saw in the media last week proves to me that deep and profound change is required on a structural level in all fields. Oh, we knew it, but it’s come up full force like a tsunami from a stormy sea. The one-two punch of the lockdown from the virus and now the protests - shows us a glimpse of another new world, another way of being in the world.

Like the new behaviours of hand-washing - so much hand-washing - we are learning new ways. Acting, not just thinking, for cooperation, deep understanding, racial justice, Black Lives Matter, the tsunami, the sea change. This is a vast global reversal of history and there is no going back.

The clear revelation is that we have always known, but it is now hitting home and hitting hard. The capitalist/colonial system of wealth creation was entirely dependent upon slavery and indigenous genocide. The great explorers, the seafarers, the mercator projection, all were at the service of this directive. Our current system is not separate from this cruel history, and never has been. And we are not separate from this system.

Shame on shipwrecked Robinson Crusoe who set out to make his fortune transporting slaves. He tamed his ‘Friday’, taught him to say ‘master’, to smoke, called him a friend. What happened to Friday after he dressed him up all Christian-like and took him back to England like an exotic pet? I’m reminded of Jean Rhys whose Wide Sargasso Sea was a powerful post-colonial reply to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. She tells the story from another world-view, of Antoinette (Mrs. Rochester) the mad-woman confined in the attic. Yes, she did burn the house down.

Okay, so what do we do now, all of us, like me, inheritors of this history? Take a deep look inside and change our inherent implicit bias. Something that can only be done beyond thought. They say meditation helps. Not much else can go far enough into the persistent programming embedded deeply in the dominant (and deadening) world view. This, combined with external changes, can stop the spread.

Now, about the violence. William Gibson said that within a person in a police state, there is “a policeman inside.” So: Defund the police. I’m doing that for myself. I’m no longer using any armoured vehicles to hide in as I go about my business. I’m watching my body cam footage each night in review - to assess my actions and how I could do better, be more kind, more compassionate. I no longer carry a riot shield or wear a helmet. My head is uncovered. I am unarmed. I don’t wear the earpiece that plugs me into the central system. I listen to everyone and everything around me. I have taken off the chest covering of the bulletproof vest so it is easier to love others. I will not purchase the cruel bayonet attachment, for I am now unarmed. The pile of armour and gear that I have shed lies beside me. I wear my own clothes, not the required uniform that makes me appear larger and stronger than I actually am. I am vulnerable, open, listening, able to love. That is bravery. That is honourable. I am ready to learn. The vast energy-drain and investment in aggression and protection is coming to an end. I can sleep at night knowing I’m putting my attention, my resources into the right directions of cooperation and compassion, meditation.

There is a new vision of a changed police force, with funding set aside not for more military equipment or brutal controls but for encouraging community involvement, mental health efforts and more. Is that what it takes to turn that ship around?

And it is personal. I need to learn to listen more, to learn again, and then listen more.

This past photo of me, taken by James K-M, on Vancouver Island

The lockdown in BC has been opening up, and so is outer life, but with caution. I’d love to start sharing links with you, but don’t want to overwhelm. For now, here are a few bits that touched me: one from the marvellous Anne Louise Avery twitter feed, and a message to be read out loud, “I Have To Trust”.

I Have to Trust

that all the friends and family we’ve lost along our

way

are the first to hold the babies who never made it into

our hands

or left too soon

So that when we see each other at the great feast in

the sky

our loved ones will hand us our beautiful babies first

and hold them with us together

to become an even bigger family

and be whole in our hearts and spirits

forever … 

From Moccasin Square Gardens by Richard Van Camp


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