Gathering at the Table

Four Friends @ the Table -d nelson

Four Friends @ the Table -d nelson

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On our path towards heart’s dream, journey’s value, at least, equals its terminus. These words came to me while sitting quietly the other day, reflecting on a couple of activities attended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With a mindful foundation based in joy, non-violence and equanimity, the past, present and future can offer me necessary insight for trying to do the right thing. Simultaneously, I can embrace beauty surrounding and supporting my existence, recognize that I and others have privileges, freedoms and opportunities previously unavailable, and realize that we must stay peacefully diligent to fulfill our highest potential, for liberty and justice for all. Zen multi-tasking.

Lincoln, the currently popular movie, is testament to our continued interest and ties to a troubled past. We’ve come a long way in the USA from legal slavery and overt “Jim Crow”, by recognizing injustice and passing equal rights legislation. African-Americans and other “minorities” are commonly neighbors, doctors, teachers, and professionals which I daily interact with now, and during my public health career. Women have more career opportunities, and not just in housework and child rearing. We even have a bi-racial President, starting his second term. But from a quiet place inside I honestly realize that this society is not close to being “post racial”, and that we all would benefit from restorative justice in our hearts, minds, as well as in our communities.

At their “Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade” presentation, Tom DeWolf and Sharon Morgan shared about their personal, and quite emotional journey towards racial reconciliation. For years they researched genealogies, visited public records, civic sites, graves and places where human beings were imprisoned, then bought and sold as property. Uncovering dark truths within our living, collective wounds. Guilt is the glue that holds together the walls and barriers to understanding, forgiveness and freedom. Healing in the knowing. Bringing light to darkness. Looking deeply we can see that people in involuntary servitude and slavery built & are the underpinnings of economies in the Western world. Their website offers further learning tools, http://gatheratthetable.net/ .

Reading other’s inspiring words & blogs gives me hope. This blogosphere accumulates endless outpourings of care for self and each other. Expressions offered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or handicap. Our deepest desire for a happy, healthy “now” for all. For a future to be possible. Webster defines empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.

“I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” -Dr ML King. Although I was young, I remember seeing Dr. King and others marching for civil rights on TV. My grade school teacher was in tears telling the class that the 38-year-old Dr. King was shot and killed. Because of his actions and those of so many others we are all more free than before. Yet, with eyes and heart open we know that economic, health, and education disparities based on race live on this day. I see consequences of these disparities in newspapers and professional journal articles. We all suffer with fear, anger, confusion, illiteracy, or hunger in our house, or our neighbor’s. Violent crime rates are rising. Panic buying of assault weapons. Poverty causes crime. Hunger causes crime. The roots of poverty and despair related to past injustices call out for our collective heart’s intervention, using the wisdom of non-discrimination. This is compassionate meditation in action.

“You have the courage to do it [speak out] because you have compassion, because compassion is a powerful energy. With compassion you can die for other people, like the mother who can die for her child. You have the courage to say it because you are not afraid of losing anything, because you know that understanding and love is the foundation of happiness. But if you have fear of losing your status, your position, you will not have the courage to do it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, from his new book, “Fear”.

May I continue waking up recognizing the gift of each moment, while looking with the eyes of compassion on all beings. May you be well, and feel happy and safe, alone or with others. Together we make this moment wonderful, and thus create the potential for a wonderful future, free of discrimination.

ps: My chant to feel safe with others in this world http://youtu.be/myHezLesTPI

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