Recently, in a meeting I had with a wonderful person who leads an equity and social justice team, we had a discussion about a ‘How?” This how was in regards to working within an institution and trying, frankly, to confront and combat the institution. In this case we were explicitly talking about structural racism. The answer that I got stuck with me, it was a bit of gristle, that took a few days of pretty intense contemplation (at least for me, not in a measure of real contemplation). Here is what I came to.
Let me start by saying the woman I was speaking to is a person I greatly admire. She is a wonderful, dedicated, and successful woman. The below is the exact email I sent her.
Thank you for all your help. I wanted to send you an email that was from me that tells you about the thoughts your facilitation brought to me. It was in particular when you spoke to how we have to serve both the institution and the movement, in essence, at the same time. I could be wrong but I have been chewing on that for days.
Here is what I have been thinking in a different form. I think I can share it with you in this style-I hope it makes sense (I call it literary photography)
“The only way to know truth is to make the Other your Beloved”
And our greats have known this always
“There art Thou, Thee art Thou”
and all that this demands
To oppose the institution is a must
at all levels
not because of the willful act of it
But the unveiling of Truth that Love demands
Any system, any construct,
Demands “this” and a “that”
Love demands no separation
that my confrontation is because
You are my beloved and you will not love
That love can speak
to anyone and everyone
That it speaks in that which
We can hear
Is also True
Thus the work is in honesty
are we speaking from love to power
or from power to love?
I will serve no master but that which
Comes from love
But I will speak to all
For only in Love is there Truth and thus Happiness
Love, like water, goes most obviously where it is not
Love in love, is like water in water
I sent this after I got a response from her to my dear friend.
I wanted to share you this email I sent to a woman that is a director/lead level person in the City of_______. I wanted to say that you have kept pushing me to stay on point and task, which is so helpful. I know, typically, you are pointing me to 'education' but I know what I did education in the first place. It isn't, necessarily, education but was the most practical place to do what I thought was actual Reality. I am convinced of it now. the strength that it arises in me is that, now, that I have lived a awhile, have done some stuff that can be pointed to to show it works, I believe I can speak to power from this base. I had a long conversation with a group about how even methodologies of communication are biased and they are biased to dominant cultural norms. We can learn and practice these norms, those of us outside of it, but it is not 'natural' in the sense it is the Way we communicate. From a leadership standpoint it behooves the person in that position to be able to address this barrier to communication (which, I am told is the single largest complaint across the board from staff to leadership). It is a moral imperative...those in power have the moral obligation to change...that they do not leads to those out of power to be forced to aggregate into a power and then it usually is nasty because it becomes a struggle for power rather than, usually, the issue.
But here, let us speak of this more deeply.
When we think about the basic way that we exist in this world, it can be boiled down to a “this” and a “that”. Every Time that we posit a thing, anything, this screen in front of me, this table, it is appearing to do two things at once-it is defining the thing (everything within its border) and, by this, is defining everything that is not-thing (everything outside of the border).
In this Christian tradition this is the actual basis of Sin. The original Sin. When we, I, say this I am not talking about a historical positing, but, frankly I am not, not either-it was happening then too. But the very act of positing the Apple arose, simultaneously, desire/greed, and all the rest. In the Buddhist tradition this is called the 12 dependent links and is commented on extensively.
In a language that you do not hear of often, in systems, this is, at its most truthful conceptual level-the difference between Love and Hate. Some say that they are close together, and, quite frankly, they are if we are to base it symbolically on location. Because, at a conceptual level when I posit a this, there must be a that, like above it is the act of separation of the Thing and No-thing, the No-thing in this case is Hate.
I believe this is the reason why Frankl states that one can only know the Truth of a ‘person’ (I would put here anything that is posited) if they become beloved to us. The truest and deepest expression of Truth is the unfettering of our concepts, unbiased good will, action, service, all of it, toward the Other. The walls of separation have been placed and the issue is that we do not believe they are pragmatic tools of conversation. We believe that they are actual structures. These walls of clouds, illusions. But not to get too flowery, at a very basic level, this is the separation of Truth and Untruth, of Sin and Grace, of Love and Hate, of Awareness and Ignorance. The fall was not years ago but in every single moment we separate. We fall. We lose. We lose because we have given the Grace of the Unity of the Godhead up for the apple.
This has a very fundamental basis to how we regard systems and how we are to combat those that have gone awry. First we must understand that they will inevitably go awry because they are based upon a false premise. The facade is up because we constantly, perpetually, acknowledge it and feed it with our assent.
yes, yes, yes, yes...” is how I imagine this going. That each moment, by the very nature of Nature, is different, it is dynamically, fundamentally, different by even out conceptual understanding (it no longer satisfies the definition of a moment ago). So it is a obsenity to Truth that we stand for anything other than an emanation of the Truth known as Love but is beyond thus.
This, to perpetuate our assent to a base other than Love, is the offering to Mamon, the truest sense of Idolatry. When we see systems, systems that are racist, etc. and we believe that we can’t do anything about it, is the way that it feels. To actively ignore it, or to revel in it, is the overt expression of Hate, of Separation, of finding revelry in the untruthful and the disunity that is against the fabric of Reality.
I think I must stop here and acknowledge that there is glee in this awfulness. There is. The Glee, I Imagine, that there would be this type in the 3rd of the Angels that fell from heaven. I think it speaks of this in a Mythological way (Myth, big M, is the closest to Truth in the conceptual language-it is not a fictional tale). I have felt it as a cruel child drunk on my physical dominance over insects and worms. Some may think it odd that such cruelties, the extent that I am hesitant to speak of, but did; firecrackers into their homes, burning them, exploding them in a microwave, all still deeply haunt me. The very fact of the seeming ease to enforce my will upon a being, a living being, for no other purpose than I could. Also, that my power did not lead me to anything kind or loving, or even an attempt at it, it was deeply hurtful and cruel and knew it when I practiced it. I can imagine, on a larger scale, this is what one feels when they consciously take on the Untruth as their mantle, as their guise...and yet, I cannot believe it is ever satisfactory. The Human seeks unity, but because it has only known seeking it believes that seeking is the natural state. But they do not know, that by the very nature of being able to seek it proves the premise of the dynamic Peace. One cannot seek if things are permanent, they must be dynamic, dynamism requires a duality that, when examined by the wise-stabilizes the view and arises peace. The dissatisfaction must bring about a horrible activity of mind, a burning, for it would always try to claw to certainty through means that cannot reach it. And even through its own flawed logic it defeats itself and so the reveler must accept their folly, their ignorance, which, for the actual unstained self (as all are) rebels against. A fire of desire, hate, anger, subsumed under a mountain of self imposed ignorance, sitting there like some churning volcano...what deep loneliness, this self imposed exile.
This feeling is the ‘lost’, it is the belittling of the very essence of what we are. The ineffable immeasurable, the unbounded Glory. We cannot ever actually take this away from ourselves, we cannot, it is the direct fundamental nature of reality-this perpetual dynamism and creation, it is not the truth to write it, or say it here, it must be experienced because by trying to impute it we are belittling it.
How much space between two points?
How many fractions do there belong?
Infinity is the only answer that suffices
and Infinity is immovable though conceptual
It is a finger that points to the Eternal
Only when we understand that because of its dynamic creation, like imputation, arises-and know this-does the conceptual become transformed, transcended, and true. What this looks like is a non-guilt, non-ironic-authentic life of responsibility toward this understanding, what it looks like in the case of ESJ is that there is a perpetual energy to get us closer to the Truth, to program off of it, and to eventually be the Truth, without putting it off to some distant future but to act off of the assumption it is going to happen right now, and have the strength to forever toil toward it. But the trick of the matter is not that we do not, “think” about it.
So, in regards to what this wonderful woman told me, if I was to take what is mostly meant by that statement-I would have had to disagree. I will not speak from power to Love, in this sense, I will not use the foundational premise that the institution has made (separation) and color it with language that was meant for Loving Language (Unity). I am in opposition to this mind set from every direction at every level, I will not compromise in my opposition to it...and yet, because of the dynamism of Truth, I can still speak to it in a language that it can understand. Whether it acts upon it or not is the bravery of those who inhabit the belly of the beast. The beast that, in Truth, is themselves, the mirror image that has swallowed itself.
I will not compromise with such evil. I will not. I will not collude with the debasing of existence. I will not side with untruth. You will be my beloved and I will speak to you in words of Love that will resonate with you because it is the Truth.