2012-03-30

Love Them Into Transformation

My self-defense, my protective reactions, work hard to protect me. It's just that they aren’t always very skilled at it. They’re rather like a typical child writing her first poem.

When your child shares with a poem she's written, you don't say, "The metaphors are mixed; it's full of cliches; some of the rhymes are off; and on line 7 I think you mean 'hermeneutic' instead of 'hermetic'." No, you don't say that. You say, “That’s wonderful.” You’re interested. You talk about the feelings expressed. If the child would like, you put it on the refrigerator. You take a few moments to beam proudly at the poem and at your child. And then you move on. You don’t get carried away and start calling up publishers to insist that your child's work be included in their next anthology.

My inner protector is like that child. It needs my love and attention. It doesn’t need me to get all carried away and devote my life to its glorification.

Is my protector flaring up to protect me when I’m not really in danger? Am I encountering a situation that triggers my protective mechanisms, when, in fact, I am encountering something or someone completely unarmed? I try to look more carefully at my triggers. Maybe that thing that’s scaring me is actually just a bag of skittles. I try to honor the protective mechanism, show it compassion, thank it for trying so hard to protect me, and ask it to trust me: to trust either that there’s nothing here that will hurt me, or to trust that the risk of harm is a risk worth taking for the sake of greater connection and compassion.

Yes, we live in a country, and in a state, that demonizes the darker skinned: Hispanics and African Americans. We don’t conquer the demonizer by rejecting it – scourging and excoriating -- but by looking with compassion at where it’s coming from. My guess is that it’s coming from insecurity. From fear. And if that’s what it is, I can understand that. I, too, have insecurities and fears.

Let us wear hoodies and stand and rally in solidarity with Trayvon’s family. At the same time, let us understand that our society will make no progress unless the insecurity is reassured. There are a lot of people out there who, in the right circumstances – or, I should say, in the wrong circumstances -- are prepared to do what George Zimmerman did. There’s a larger question. Demanding that fear and insecurity be arrested and locked up won’t make it go away. The larger question is how to love. How do we love so fiercely, so deeply, so courageously that we love even fear, that we love even hate -- and we love them into transformation?

We do now need to stand in solidarity with groups that are threatened because they are perceived as threatening. That’s what the hoodie is about. It’s a call for solidarity. We need to make that stand. And: we need to look at the larger question of this insecurity in our land.

It’s a legitimate thing to want to protect our homes. It’s also a legitmate thing for members of minority groups to want to be able to stroll safely through any neighborhood they may happen to be legitimately visiting while wearing a hoodie and carrying skittles and iced tea.

Our call is to a path of healing and wholeness that recognizes and honors all the voices in our hearts and all the voices in our society.

Our call is to love -- and stand on the side of love -- and recognize and honor all the colors: the colors of fear, of revulsion, of defense and protection; the colors of affection, of bold risk-taking for the hope of connection, of calling ourselves and others to accountability; the colors of tribal identity as well as the colors of delight in diversity.

Our call is to love -- and stand on the side of love -- and recognize and honor all the diverse voices and colors within us and all the people and colors around us. All the colors.
"De Colores"

All the colors, yes, the colors we see in the springtime with all of the flowers.
All the colors, when the sunlight shines out through a rift in the cloud and it showers.
Al the colors, as a rainbow appears when a storm cloud is touched by the sun.
All the colors abound for the whole world around and for everyone under the sun.

All the colors, yes, the black and the white and the red and the brown and the yellow.
All the colors, all the colors of people who smile and shake hands and say, "Hello!"
All the colors, yes, the colors of people who know that their freedom is won.
All the colors abound for the whole world around and for everyone under the sun.
* * * * *
Part 5 of "Evil."
Previous: Part 4, "Baptists, Bootleggers, and Self-Defense"
Beginning: Part 1: "Tragedy, Spring. Fractals."