What follows is a modified piece from a Facebook post I put up a couple of days ago. As I will be on vacation over the next two weeks, I thought and felt it important to have something up here that responds to the horrible injustice of our time.
I believe I have told you—and myself—a terrible lie.
Spirit Must Lead Politics
I have told you, by my fearful relative silence on some topics in the context of The Way of the River, that the spiritual world, the world of our metaphors and mysticism, the world of our contemplation and our inner work, does not have to speak out loud and clear in, and inTO, the face of horror and injustice.
I take as models in this regard many venerable teachers—Thich Nhat Hahn, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Katherine of Siena… All of these who have spoken and still speak through decades and centuries, of the mandatory union of contemplation and action.
In the presence of more murders, more murders captured for all the world to see, I truly don’t know what to say—and that doesn’t excuse silence. I know I need to write, and not just rely on others to express my own fears, angers, unrest, hopes, and despair.
I am holding two realities. One is the kind of truth that says, “We are all part of one human family” and “I need you to survive.” That is true.
And I also recognize that my friends of color, and especially Black friends live with fear, rage, despair, cynicism, numbness, and other feelings I don’t know, because I don’t live them day to day. That too is true.
I Live with Supremacy
I don’t fear for the life of my brother, Peter Buckland, for example. It’s just not something that enters my consciousness, except when I’m worried he’s going to hurt himself mountain biking. None of my extended family have ever been shot and killed. One injured in a hunting accident, maybe? One in prison.
This assumption of safety is about white supremacy. Of the supremacy—not just “privilege”—that allows my family to assume relative safety for the young men, trans women, and others in the gathering of my family—biology, love, collegiality, and neighborhood.
I carry the “backpack of white privilege.” There are other ways in which I am not privileged, but so what? The moment in which we are living is about people of color being targeted by other people who have racial privilege.
Targeted as immigrants. Targeted as Muslims.
Targeted for walking, eating, sleeping, driving while Black.
We Are Talking about Racism
The moment we are living in is about racism. Xenophobia, yes. Rape culture and misogyny, yes. Violence abroad, yes. But this piece, this moment, is about racism.
We live in times when we are perceiving more and more of the violent racism that has been at the heart of this country since before its constitution as a nation. We are perceiving—thanks in part to smartphones—the violence done to one another by one another. Racist violence being perpetrated largely by white men against people of color.
There is toxic masculinity at play. There is racism at play. There is violence eating away at what the United States might be.
So I say all of that to say this: I perceive what is happening, in as much as I can.
In my case, I hear it, I read it, I feel it in the segregation of my own city.
I love my friends, colleagues, and heartsibs who are people of color. I love you with a fierce, angry love. And love is not enough. And yet it is the core of who I am, the reason I do my work. I lead from my heart.
And so my heart is on fire with fierce love. My heart is aflame with anger and a desire for righteousness and justice. My heart is burning with the sure knowledge that boundaries, neighborhoods, lives are being destroyed all around me.
It is moving me to understand that just because I have limitations doesn’t mean I can be silent. Just because I’m afraid I might get my feelings hurt—sweet Jesus, how many times have I allowed such a small thing as my fragile, white feelings getting hurt to keep me silent?—is no excuse for being out there and doing what I can.
I want to write more about these issues—not just to pray, not just to hold vigils, but to add my voice—clearly and unequivocally—to the chorus that is saying No.
This violence is not even remotely acceptable. There is NOTHING about it that is just. No. Not just. Not acceptable. Not justifiable. No.
And yes to saying yes—to a community of beloved people of all races, etc.
But FIRST to say No. No (and whites’ accepting no) so that people of color can have their own spaces and caucuses and set boundaries. No so that we can teach children how to protect themselves and how not to violate others. No so that we, especially white people, are CLEAR.
Hear Me: Black. Lives. Matter.
Black Lives Matter —THIS IS NOT A RADICAL STATEMENT, PEOPLE.
Black Lives Matter and they are at risk every day. Unacceptable.
Black Lives Matter, and no matter how reasonable a statement it is, I truly believe it going to take a revolution on the cultural, social, emotional, and political levels, all together, to make it so that Black lives matter in our culture.
We need a revolution.
Blessings on your ways.
Blessings on your devotion to the Sacred.
Blessings on your loyalty and courage.
Blessings on the inspiration of your words.
Blessings on all you are, all you have been, and all you shall be in this life and in the ripples to come.