Friday, December 12, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri As A Door Opener

Your heart and mind have many doorways to personal and collective transformation. 

Here is a story of one of my own transformations, opening doorways in me from the personal to the collective.

Thanksgiving weekend brought with it moments of serious contemplation for many of us. The uprisings erupting out of the grand jury ruling to not indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown took center stage.

At a time when Americans customarily turned to the holiday and what it is intended to represent of our blessings, the ruling shifted attention, dramatically, from the holiday’s objective.

Perhaps it was intended to do that.

Why else position the announcement for this time, if not?

So, I, like many others were called to incorporate our responses to what was happening in Ferguson and elsewhere into our Thanksgiving feast day. Each of us, so inclined, having our own personal angle regarding how the situation was touching us.

As has become typical for me I sat down and wrote a blog article, using writing as a vehicle for sorting things out. What came of the effort was an article I titled: “Tribal Mindsets: The Light And The Dark Sides,” my name for it capturing how I was holding the subject.

Typically when I write as a means for ordering my mind I feel a sense of clarity and completion.

But this time was different.

In the article, I wrote of pondering particular things the Ferguson situation aroused in me.  As a result I found  myself drawn to revisit an incident that happened at a New Horizons’ Abkhazian Dinner event that has  left  still  unhealed  scars and  breaches. The situation, growing  out of  an occurrence  at the event of  verbal abuse that had, also, had strong racial overtones.

To  date the situation remains without reconciliation ,  almost  three  years past. But it  didn’t have  to  be this way; it still does not! 

I have always believed this.

Similarly, I was believing this of Ferguson, too. But what was best to do, now, I asked myself.

As I wrote the article, and then later continued reflecting on that earlier situation up against the current mayhem around Ferguson, I asked myself what had I learned from  my experience of the Abkhazian Dinner upset.

And what could I/we do with what we have learned from this and other past situations of racial tensions.

I had believed that  I  had  done  all I could  regarding  the Abkhazian Dinner  incident.   But maybe  I had not.  So I pondered that past with this present – and – wondered at it all.

Thus over the Thanksgiving holiday, I found myself looking again at my part in racial situations, past and present, that lack healing, to date. 

Ferguson, Missouri prompted  me to do this.

Much more began to flow into my heart and mind once this process of personal de-cluttering began. Alchemy was at work again, turning the lead in me into gold.

Low karat or not, gold is gold!

The most amazing of it all was that in the process my mind, almost magically, shifted to a separation I knew full well I had created.

Irrational as it seems  now, out of these clearing efforts I came to realize that in my growing distress with President Obama  I had, without conscious intent, begun to develop a racist attitude toward others of color, turning away from people I love. 

Racism can be that subtle.

OMG! I could not believe it when all at once I grasped what I had done.

Never before a racist, I had, inadvertently, become a part of this country’s problems with race relations, instead of being a part of the solution. (Sometimes being born Jewish gives one a predisposition to social justice, you may realize.)

OMG! A doorway to a locked down area of my heart and mind opened.

What did do with it? I followed my own prescription for the cure of polarization!

Almost instantly, I began to lean in to friends of mine of color instead of holding back.

Since few were around who could meet my almost instantaneous shift in awareness, I used my re-newed passion for social justice and creativity to draft a plan for New Horizons that we, collectively, could carry forth, born of an idea of  conscious concern this Thanksgiving holiday.

An Executive Director can take such liberties, even on a holiday.

So --- what’s happening next at New Horizons?

Out of Ferguson, Missouri we are, together, initiating a new project, building on our Small “Zones of Peace” conversations model  ---

Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations.
We do hope you will support this new effort of ours. Details will follow.

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