Living in this moment, in this country, on this Earth, I recognize that things have gone badly wrong.
In our culture, I see and acknowledge that black and brown people--men, women, and children, are under attack. Every black man, ranging from our president to a man selling CD's or one who is a school cafeteria manager, is consistently and relentlessly attacked by an unjust, violent, judgmental, and racist system every single day. Every child, ranging from one of our 'first daughters' choosing to go to Harvard and take a gap year to the littlest preschooler is at risk for suspensions and punishment in their school system and judgment and scorn in the media in a way their white classmates are not. Black and brown women, so palpably my sisters in motherhood and womanhood, walk the same kind of life that I walk but in incredibly different circumstances. Every single day, in the face of cons they have to discern what to say and how to say it in the face of a culture that is both ravaging their families and pretending that nothing is wrong.
I am angry and sad, heartbroken, grief-stricken, sickened by this violence and horror.
I feel the pull to fall into the horror, to let it define me, to become it, which is what happens when I can't stand steady as a conscious being in the midst of this violence. This can look like being emotionally reactive, making it about me and my anger or sadness, becoming violent, attacking fellow human beings with words. The dark forces win if I fall in. They also win if I ignore or deny it, if I respond with silence, with argument, or with pretending that this has nothing to do with me or isn't important.
This is a line I must walk. Seeing with my eyes wide open, feeling with my broken heart. And knowing that what I AM, what WE ARE, is the field of presence holding this horror, the loving presence witnessing, listening deeply, caring, speaking, acting, allowing this to break us open and change us.
Because just as I must stay steady in the face of my child's stormy emotions so that I can be the loving presence that helps him remember who he truly is, right now I must hold that same presence for my country. The presence that sees and cares and loves. That speaks for justice without identifying with hatred. That is willing to shine a light on all that is ugly and unresolved in myself and let it be transformed by these absolutely horrific events. That is willing to speak truth to power in my small part of the world. And that is willing to direct my energy for change not at one or two or a hundred individuals, but at the unjust culture that has shaped them.
Together, let us be the presence. We see what is happening. We open our hearts to the suffering of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and to their loved ones. And to all who have have suffered and are suffering. We name the injustice. We allow the light of clear perception and openness to burn away and transform the darkness, within us and in the world.
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.