Responding to Charleston

I sit in my rural home temple, listening to the news of yet another young white man who has taken a gun as a means to act out his suffering.

At first I am struck by the fact that this happened in a church, a house of worship, until I am reminded by a friend’s email that this is not new news– that white men since the beginning of this country, have invaded sacred spaces to massacre indigenous peoples.

I am aware of my own uprisings of helplessness and anger as I prepare the Zendo downstairs, my ‘church’, for a half day sitting. The thought plagues me, “What can sitting on a cushion do? ”
And I remember the barely a man, white person who sat welcomed into a black church, who stayed for an hour in a circle of Bible study and I wish that he could have just sat still.

I wish that he could have just resisted the urge to stand up, not followed the impulse to pull out his gun, that he could just have held back asserting his power over the others by shooting them dead.  I wish that he could have instead stayed sitting.
I notice in myself a sense of powerlessness in not being able to stop such actions, such violence, such ignorance-fueled impulses.

On NPR I heard the mother of a woman who was killed say through her tears that she forgave the shooter.  At this moment I lack the strength of heart, of faith in a God who is all forgiving, to honestly say such words. Perhaps tomorrow.  Today I look to my Bodhisattva vows and try to listen deeply to the cries of this world, including the cry of my own heart.
I want to say to those who ask, “What does Dharma have to do with dismantling white privilege and racism?”  I want to say to these people that “it” walked through the open and loving doors of a black church and sat down concealing a loaded gun.

I want to be able to speak up with wisdom and compassion and stop “it”.   To say JUST SIT DOWN, ‘It’ is not outside of you, “it” is not outside of me, “it” is not outside of this very moment.

In this very moment I am eased by the words of the Reverend Dr. King who said, “I have decided to stick to love…hate is too great a burden to bear.”

May our hearts lean towards love and healing.

June 19, 2015


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