Sunday Morning ~ Pride Goeth…
Cenjere-cenjere sakupha nsomba, akupha nsomba n’kombe. ~ Being boastful does not kill fish, it is the net that kills fish.
~ Chewa proverb
April 19, 2020
Before this virus changed the world I was considering a retreat, though I wasn’t sure what that would look like. I thought maybe two weeks in some quiet remote setting where I would have to spend time just thinking and being alone. Wandering through the streets of Lisbon by myself didn’t suffice. It wasn’t the spiritual experience I was hoping for. There was no epiphany. I was constantly stimulated by new sights and lessons and I didn’t really do enough self examination. I wondered where I could go to be away from all my social structure and familiar overcommitment. Then voila! It was handed to me. Good timing for me. Not so for others, I know.
I’ve been reading about white privilege. I’ve said many times since this shelter in place started that I am very privileged and I know it. I have a large comfortable place to stay. I have acres of land to be outside. I have trails to walk in the woods and ducks to watch swimming in the heath. I have friends to communicate with and satisfying work I can do from home. I had been on an enriching vacation for an entire month traveling around Europe just before this all started. I have a freezer full of food, some of which has been there for a long time and is still good. Maybe not premium but it’s satisfying to use it up and I’m not trying to impress anyone. I feel like I was made for this. I’m not lonely. I have lots of books to read. I have movies to watch. I have plenty of projects to work on. I have money enough to buy the supplies I need to work on them. I am healthy. I’m learning new skills, like making cement countertops. I worked hard all my life to earn these comforts but I still feel sorry knowing others are struggling. I’ve made good practical decisions. I’ve made some impulsive ones as well, but many of those worked out well, too. I’m careful. I’m coming to understand just how much my whiteness enabled me to get here.
In examining the white privilege I have enjoyed and benefited from, I’m reflecting on other aspects of privilege and trying to understand those I don’t agree with politically. Humans are so complex. I wonder if it is even possible to understand extreme political views so in contrast to all I believe. Do we let go and let people feel free to think what they want, make their own decisions about how to vote, let majority rule? Oh wait, there’s the kicker, majority rule and the heritage of white privilege in this country. What if one side cheats? I’m not sure if trying to understand this gives me hope or just believing that the pendulum always swings back does, but I am trying to find a way to give hope a chance. I think of my two brothers who are fanatically conservative, though to my knowledge, neither are particularly religious. We grew up in the same family, obviously, and we all endured different types of abuse tailored to our personal weaknesses. Did that determine political leanings? My father suffered discrimination because of his Italian heritage and was scarred by that. He was also scarred by abuse in his own family and that trickled down. I understand but don’t accept that. My brothers are not evil people, though they support an evil one. How is that? They are both generous, helpful, caring people. They are devoted fathers. One of my nephews referred to his father as a fascist at an age I was surprised he even knew what the term meant. When I was in Malawi, in an attempt to get me to accept a generous donation he wanted to make to the midwifery ward, my brother said, “If you don’t take it it’s going to the re-elect Trump campaign.” This was a nice gesture on his part, but how weird was that? How do I reconcile sharing DNA with these people? I’m searching myself for a way to continue to love them and let go of trying to get them to see my point. They are very supportive of me. They never berate me personally, though they mock people who talk like me. But I do the same to them. I just consider my comments more right. Right meaning correct. I’ll never change their minds and don’t even try. I gave that up during the Reagan era. The stakes are higher now, though and I don’t know how to reconcile it all.
I’m seeing the pattern of the bluster that is meant to invoke chaos and fear. I’m wondering if it is a calculated distraction technique to invoke the feeding frenzy that ensues, or if it is just pure evil. I only take in small doses, trying to preserve my sanity. I watch my state leaders carry themselves with respect and dignity, exhibiting the kind of leadership that brings my anxiety level down. I see majorities coming out and risking their lives for justice. This also brings my anxiety level down, as I sit in my safe cocoon and silently cheer them on.
This isn’t forever. Every time I listen to our governor I smile and think of the disgrace we had in that office for eight years and the lives lost in this state because of his policies. I’m proud to live in this state now. Proud of the leadership we have and the daily press briefings that inform us in a rational way. I listen and think how smart those people are. I smile thinking they don’t have to reassure anyone they are smart. I just love that about smart people. So this week, in my serendipitous retreat, I thought about my state, thought of where it was a few years ago, and a sense of calm came over me as I envisioned the country turning around too. It’s possible
Love to all,