In recent weeks, the world watched in horror as the life and breath of George Floyd was coldly taken away from him. Many of us have grown angry, and tired, and saddened as this event adds to the many, many, many citizens who have lost their lives due to inequality, injustice, poverty, and hate.
This is nothing new. It is just the most recent, maybe the most visible, example of the systemic injustice and dehumanization of an entire population that continues to exist.
As many people find themselves to be part of these oppressed communities, there are even more of us who will never know the effects of their reality. The fear that they live through every day just being who they are is a terror many of us can never and will never understand, which is why it is up to the rest of us to help enlist change.
I reminded my students this week that this is ultimately the purpose for the work that we do practicing Yoga on the mat and in our daily lives. Yoga teaches us to calm the chatter of our minds, still ourselves from the distractions that we allow through the stories that we create. With this practice we can then see ourselves more honestly, see the world more clearly, and develop the strength and power we need to stand up, find our voice, and live our truths.
Ahimsa is often taught as non-violence and non-harming which is simple to identify and not an incorrect translation. However, we have an opportunity to take that practice further. If we recognize the inner turmoil that comes up when we know that something is truly wrong, we have an obligation to do something about it in order to truly practice Ahimsa.
So for those ready for action and if you are still with me at this point, thank you for listening to yet another point of view. It is not my place to judge and I do not and will not ever have all of the answers but I am taking steps—a little every day and whatever I can manage.
If you are still in denial of what is happening, trying to convince yourself and others that “it’s better than it was,” or if you insist on changing the narrative to your own perspective of how things “should or shouldn’t be handled,” I encourage you to see that you are missing the point. Please join me and consider listening to and/or reading the list of resources below to help open up your mind and maybe even inspire you to action. Be sure to order books from your local book stores whenever possible.
- “History Teaches Us to Resist” by Mary Frances Berry
- The Ted Radio Hour episode Clint Smith Reflects On This Moment on NPR with Clint Smith
- “Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas
- “Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation“
- “One Simple Thing” by Eddie Stern
For those ready to do more please find ways to contribute to your community—donate, sign petitions to end injustice and discrimination, volunteer to help educate, and be sure to vote. Most importantly, as the protests for this extremely important movement begin to quiet down and the momentum fueled by anger begins to wane, keep having these conversations and keep listening to their stories.
Too many people in the world suffer under discriminatory laws and underlying beliefs that they are sub-human and undeserving of common decency and respect. Black lives, those in poverty and underprivileged, and many in the LGBTQ community fear for their own safety every day because of hate and that is wrong and it must end. For those of us with the privilege to turn and look away, don’t. We have to help be their voice or they will never be heard.