(A heart given to me by an elementary school student. It was sweet and unexpected.)
Some thoughts that came my way recently...
We are in a sweeping time...A time of great sweeping change...It feels like the roots of so much darkness are being pulled up and out so all the deflection and pathology of racism can be exposed.
This is not easy work. It requires courage and self-reflection.
My mother, who left this world in 2017, and I did not have the easiest relationship in this life. But, we at least had the same political leanings, a similar way of seeing the world through that lens. That commonality allowed for some enjoyable and fluid communication for which I was very grateful.
Come the time of the 2008 election, and - for the first time in our country’s history-an African-American had become the liberal candidate. I was so happy about this not only for what that this represented, but candidate-elect Obama struck me as a deeply noble, highly intelligent and compassionate being. So much felt possible with this new beginning.
But, to my great disappointment, my mother did not share this enthusiasm. Suddenly, my mother-this lifelong Democrat-was leaving the liberal fold and extolling the virtues of the opposition’s pick of VP. This was particularly difficult as I considered the VP pick of the other party to be a deeply wrong-headed choice - more aptly put, shocking, in this candidate’s lack of depth and under-preparedness for the role.
Now, this can happen, this switching of political parties. And, it’s fine onto itself. We live in a democracy. But, I knew, without being told, that her political pivot was due to the color of the candidate-elects skin. She made a feeble effort to make it sound like it had to do with the policy differences between between he and the other candidate of his party. But, I knew better. And, she knew I knew.
I know my mother was of a generation of which this behavior was not really surprising. She might have come by it honestly, in that way. But, the pivot was dramatic and very disappointing. Where was the open-heartedness and open-mindedness toward this wonderful change and great possibility that we, as a nation, had at our doorstep? Mom, what happened? This pivot, to my mind, was so beneath you.
My mother was mired in the heaviness of prejudice which had preceded her for generations. This is not an excuse, by any means-just the reality of that situation. And, she did not have the wherewithal to transcend this prejudice. This woman, who, at one point, worked with Mother Theresa’s Little Sisters of the Poor at their hospice In Washington, D.C., could not lift out of this generational heavy mud.
It is not to say my mother didn’t have fine qualities. She did. And, she was my mother. I loved her. This is not, by any means, a gratuitous dissing of my mother. Simply that she served as an example, in that way, of what desperately needs to change.
Now it is incumbent upon us to lift out of this mud, this heaviness. It is incumbent upon us to see clearly the pathology of racism. Conditioning can be very heavy and seemingly intransigent. But, with an open heart and courage we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can see our way to a world that disavows racism and opens its arms to all beings.
This, I sense, really is possible. But, it requires deep self-reflection and the willingness to see the error of our ways. It requires love.
We can do this.
June 10, 2020