("We are Awakening" Deva Premal and Miten)
If we allow ourselves to listen to the rhetoric that now fills the halls of our legislative bodies...national, state and local...and if we listen to and observe the actions of some public figures and geo-political leaders; and if we rely upon our conditioned mental and emotional patterns to dictate responses...if we take all this into a framework of perceived reality...then we can assuredly say that we are in some trouble. We can say that we are broken. We can become cynical, angry, anxious, fearful and reactive to the extent that we become the explosive charge to all the dysfunction we observe around us.
I am writing this, because I do not think any of what I said above is either necessary, or even part of who and what we really are. Three events over the past several days have jolted me. A fourth consideration has provided the grit upon which these events have become pivot points for me. They represent what I summarized in the paragraph above.
An NBA team owner is recorded speaking words that denigrate, demean and segregate an ethnic group in society. A former political leader makes a speech in which she proclaims that, if she were a central leader, waterboard torture would be the baptism for terrorists.
I spent a weekend with several first cousins and a couple of second cousins at a reunion to celebrate the 70th birthday of one of the 1st cousins who has been on a three-year journey with cancer. We told stories...they included events of joy, saddness and the sharing of the dysfunction that has been part of the generational "DNA" of relationships. It was hard to hear some of these stories, but the fact that, in our 60s and 70s (age), we can share these painful realities, we find a place of healing and a shift into new places of caring and compassion. "I love you" were the most heard words, as we parted to return to our daily lives.
The consideration cited aboveis a possible return to part-time parochial work as a "Priest-in-Charge" of a small, struggling congregation...located nearly 50 miles from where we live. It would require about 20 hrs/week, which would include Sundays and would probably last for about a year. For the past two weeks, I have seriously struggled with the implications of this on several levels...time, focus, finances, professional resources and the flexibility I have come to appreciate in nearly three years of retirement from active parochial work. As I write this, I still have no solid idea about how this will "play out."
Truth #1: Every Human Being on the Planet Shares the Same First Chromosomal Marker
This truth, alone, is disturbing enough for a lot of folks to simply deny its plausibility. It's like anything that cuts against the grain of our conditioning (e.g., we didn't go to the moon; it was staged in the New Mexico or Arizona desert).
The work of geneticists Francis Collins and Spencer Wells...with a host of genetics support through major world organizations...has proven beyond doubt that all human beings on the planets come from the same Homo sapiens roots. This is not the place to dive into the research and the total science. The mapping of the human genome that was completed in the 1990s and the ongoing work of Spencer Wells in the Genographic Project are published materials. Essentially, the male Y chromosome in all male humans has the same first "error" in generational transmission of that genetic material. The female mitochondrial DNA has the same first "error" in generational transmission of that genetic material. The migration patterns of homo sapiens from its origins in east central Africa over the past 65,000 years shows how and why we have the remarkable diversity in features, skin tone, etc.
Like it or not, this is a true and serious scientific reality.
Truth #2: Every Human Being on the Planet has an Imago Core
This is disturbing enough to call forth all kinds of crises in what we call "faith" or "belief." The essence of being is a Self that is both timeless and vital. It doesn't take much to know this, but, again, we are conditioned to function as if who we are is wrapped in a package that gets identified by various names: "personality," "ego structure," "self," "mind," etc. That package is important in taking universal elements and putting them to work in specific ways. This process is called "individuation," and it is like a marker that locates us in time and space.
It is the point at which the individuated package becomes an individual...separate and seemingly independent from other...that we begin to categorize other humans as being different. That is the moment where skin tone, ethnic origin, and cultural behaviors become the defining terms for what makes a human. We go with the individual package, lump folks in categories and set the dualities that become lived out as racism, cultural profiling and all manners of discrimination.
If we all share the same anthropological parents, we are related by DNA. That's the scientific fact. If we are, as humans, uniquely imprinted by the Divine Imago (character and nature), we are related in Spirit. That is the fact of spirituality and human essence.
Terrorism is fear-based. Unfortunately, most religions are also fear-based. I have lost count of the sermons I have heard, conversations I have had and material I have read that base belief and faith on fear, guilt and shame. I have struggled to emerge from that place. The Divine Imago is loving, compassionate, caring and forgiving. For a Christian to suggest that the sacrament for bringing people into the Love of Christ Jesus be a waterboard torture for people whose actions are, themselves, fear-based is both the depth of ignorance and the pinnacle of hubris. To isolate a particular ethnic group as being less than equal in human stature is also the depth of ignorance and the pinnacle of hubris.
We have each, in our own way, distorted the fundamental premises of faith traditions to create a barrier against differences and a weapon of punishment....or worse, destruction.
I was shocked to learn something in visiting with my cousins this past weekend. In all of my reading and research, I had not found that my paternal family had ever owned slaves...even though they had been in the deep south since the American Revolution. One of our cousins has been doing some very deep searching through family of origin records. There is "paper proof" that the Mann family did have slaves on the farm plantations of Georgia prior to the Civil War. When that was told, one could have heard a pin drop in that room of 20+ people. I have been walking with the reality of that and the fact that this was probably true for ancestors I will never know...thousands of years ago. The blessing is that all of us in that room expressed heart-felt gratitude that we have moved beyond that dysfunction, can embrace the story and draw from the deeper reality of commonality.
Shift: It is, in Fact, Happening
Humanity is awakening to the true sense of Self and global connectedness. It is happening across the boundaries of religious systems. It is not organized...as in being a new "religion." It defies the parameters of organizational community. It simply is. It has been happening for a few years now and goes largely unnoticed.
When an antibiotic is first introduced into a system riddled with infection, the inflammation will actually initially increase. The invasive organism fights to retain its "foothold" in the system. The antibiotic does not, itself, kill the infection. It simply strengthens the immune response that is already in place. The body begins to heal and regain its homeostasis.
Humanity is well out of homeostasis. We have been for a long time. A shift is happening, and it does seem as though things are getting worse. In this country, we seem to be in a retrograde regarding human rights, civil liberties, care for those who are in great need. Legislative bodies are enacting laws that, once again, discriminate. The first words in any new, potentially hostile, global action is to "send in the troops." The value of human life and integrity of relationship seems to be at something of an all-time low. The Spirit weeps.
Yet, there is a shift. It is this shift that is like an antibiotic. It cannot be reversed. It is Divine in nature and essence. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but we are moving toward a new wholeness.
In the words taught to me by my Lakota friends and mentors: Mitakuye Oyasin....All our Relations (We are All Related). We almost crushed that which would give us the greatest truth.
Those are all my words for now.
Love and Blessings,