Moving From The Head To the Heart On The Race Issue
More wisdom on racism. My friend, Cecelia, sent me this email. Can you all get to this…
Hi! I’ve been think about the discussion you had going about the term “race”. I could see many very passionate opinions coming up… and it was a wonderful discussion, intellectually.
Here’s my two cents… just to share with you a bit of where I stand on what is obviously a passion for you.
I find the term “race” has many aspects for me. At it’s worst, it is a concept that perpetuates power and control over others. It is one of many, many, words/concepts that do that. (And really, my inclination is to just lump them all together and look for a solution that solves them all… you see as I go along. It just seems like we could move on more quickly that way…) At it’s best, it is a way to celebrate individuality. It is a tool for classification, which is a neutral concept for me. Classification is a way of gathering information… It’s what we do, (or don’t do) with the information that has potential for problems as far as I’m concerned.
The big issue is when it is a source of misuse of power and control. But I equate making the term “race” the issue with our current practice in schools of making “bullies” a problem…
I think nationally, now… we have adopted a zero tolerance policy toward bullies… there are curriculums in which children are taught that bullies are bad. They are taught to identify them, manage them and there may even be a small blip about trying to understand them in some of the more compassionate curriculums. I disagree with this path. Bullies aren’t the issue. The issue is that we as a culture refuse to talk openly about power and control. And for me the cure to this issue is compassion, an embracing of humanness, humanity.
And then the Einstein quote about not being able to solve a problem from the same consciousness comes to mind… only in this case, you can’t solve an issue of the heart, which leads to compassion-less ways of thinking and seeing the world with the intellect. The intellect, on its own, lacks the resources to engage the heart which is where healing could occur.
In general, I think the intellect needs weigh in with heart.
I don’t know that I value finding another way to describe the issues, another word conveying the inequities of having brown skin. We have enough words… and introducing yet another word or phrase diverts energy away from trying to engage the heart. For myself, I wouldn’t use the term racism or the phrase extreme color arousal to convey the profound dis-empowerment, devaluing, inability to be seen as who I am, and lack of connection and compassion that I have experienced when I’ve encountered racism. I try to describe the hopelessness I felt then, but I’d do so from my currently empowered state, not as a victim. I’d trust that if I share my heart, they’d get it on the heart level… and I don’t really care about the intellect… it’ll come on it’s own. But I recognize and respect the power of words… how they deeply color communication… and that’s exactly why I’d tend to avoid racism and extreme color arousal… both are likely to make people more guarded and what I want is an open door to let my experience touch their hearts.
The intellect has it’s rigid shades of black and white… the heart knows gray is really the more common color of Life… there’s an acceptance of both in gray. So there’s not so much to fight against… and then to add more white or more black to the mix is a matter of preference.. but you can understand both. And in that understanding there’s room for power to be shared and the needs of everyone to be met. There’s connection.
The heart knows things the mind never will…
To complete the thought on bullies… I feel the same way about it. Teach children it is natural to want power and control in one’s reality. It is. Do you know anyone that doesn’t want that from birth on up? It’s ok to want that. And teach them how to get it… to look at those needs and find ways to accomplish them without needing power over someone else. Find ways to let children be empowered with at least some choices… and let them explore the idea that there are some choices that can not be taken away, along with ones that can be given and taken away based on their behavior/choices. Teach them compassion and they will become confused at the idea of bullying, it will become naturally repulsive and unthinkable. So many things are non-issues if we ever thought to teach compassion as a priority in living. Racism would be a non-issue if people ever got around to living compassion.
So that’s my two cents… for what it’s worth.
Now, there are those who would view this as pie in the sky. I would say, where does staying grounded in the paradigms we’ve been grandfathered get us? I want to challenge all of us to think Pie-in-the-Sky. After all freedom is Pie-in-the-Sky; should we not think thoughts and feel feelings that will lead us towards a Utopian life? Or should we just stride towards a more comfortable slavery?
Not that we have it but, once upon a time, democracy was a utopian ideal. If we aren’t proposing an alternative to the madness we’re living, then we are complicit in the madness we are living. We must go deeper. As Charles Mingus put it, “You Better Git It in Your Soul.”