We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A huge part of becoming enlightened involves facing life’s tough issues head on. We normally try to do this with our own personal demons: addictions, phobias, and traumas. Sometimes though, history intersects with our personal stories and provides us with an opportunity to face a collective challenge.
Baltimore represents our current collective challenge. Racist police tactics are the issue being debated all over the news, on social media, and in the streets. Some people are active participants in the protests; others are discussing them on Facebook, at work, and among friends; still others ignore the issue altogether because it seems so overwhelming.
In reality it is very simple. Not easy, but simple. We bridge the gap of differing beliefs about this issue just like we would do with our differences with a friend. Or a family member. We consider the other person’s experience, use our vast pool of imagination to put ourselves in their shoes as much as possible, and we listen. In doing so, we stretch the former limits placed on our own perspective.
Ultimately, we must want to get everyone on the same side. And we get everyone on the same side by refusing to be judgmental, by stopping the name calling, and by opening our minds to the not-so-far-fetched possibilities that consistently well-treated people don’t stage protests, and that rioting undermines protesters’ and police officers’ efforts to hear each other.
So here’s a start, a few practical applications of the above:
- If you’re in a grocery, or at work, or anywhere else and someone within earshot calls protesters thugs, or cops pigs, call out the name callers. Do this. Even if you’re shaking and everyone mocks you for speaking up. You’re planting the seeds of respect, and these will eventually blossom into a more elevated discussion aimed at finding a solution.
- Learn something: Seek out the writings and the news pieces of people whose opinions of the issue differ from yours. This isn’t about agreeing with all the content; it’s about considering it.
- Thank those many police officers who are doing a great job. Gratitude will help increase the ranks of those who are on the side of justice for all.
In short exhibit courage and appreciation. If we get it right, if we truly commit to healing this shared issue, our outside world will undergo a great shift. Peace will fill places previously taken up by conflict, clearing a much smoother path to fulfilling all our dreams. We have an opportunity to take a great leap forward in healing the wounds of prejudice in America, one small act at a time.
“True love is born from understanding.” – Buddha
Discussion Question: This one’s an open-ended discussion.