This is written in tribute to 7 recent victims of violence in Baton Rouge, LA, Falcon Heights, MINN*, and Dallas, TX – plus the myriads who die in the world each day by the hands of those living in fear, ignorance, frustration, and hatred.
Defensiveness is an interesting stance. We have all stood there – afraid to give up position because we believe in something and afraid to look at our belief too carefully. Afraid of the loss of faith, or security, or our own story.
Peter Rosenberg is a radio personality from New York, whose response to a caller went viral on social media after the killing of Alton Sterling. (This was previous to the death of Philando Castile and the police officers* in Dallas.) I wish I knew how to put this video on my blog but I can only offer you the link.
And the gist of it.
The conversation referred to police doing bad things. But his response isn’t just applicable to law enforcement. Our fear of losing what we believe in causes us to defend grave injustices – sometimes unconsciously. Each of us have done it: policemen, politicians, clergymen, educators, healers, and all who see ourselves as aligned with a particular race, religion, ethnicity, or belief that separates us from the “other”
It’s time to think. Seeing our prejudices and privileges as real and harmful can only help us grow individually and as a people. Calling out bad behavior in ourselves and others when necessary can only make us stronger. Punishing and/or ousting the corrupt can help restore the faith of those who once believed in the good of any group or institution.
It is our lack of faith in justice and right-doing that causes us to vilify entire organizations. It is our fear of chaos, I suppose, that catapults us into this defensiveness that keeps us clinging to the status quo and allows wrongs to be perpetrated over and over.
This is personal to me. My grief and rage is real. And I have insight into what I can do. Stepping away from defensiveness is a process that takes self-examination and even closer look at why I am holding ground. Openness to criticism and change takes thoughtfulness and courage. I’m going to work toward it.
*I have not found names yet of the police officers.
I also sadly acknowledge those bystanders who now have murder and mayhem deeply embedded in their psyches.
Like Brene Brown said, it is so much easier to be angry and blame than feel the vulnerability of loss and grief. But that’s our only hope for connection and change.
We all have work to do, don’t we? I have a story for you.
There is only so much that individuals can do. Those who see themselves as aligned with a particular race, religion, ethnicity, or belief that separates us from the “other” do so due to a primordial instinct and they have to be given the benefit of education before such instincts can be changed to modern and rational compassion. In the Eastern philosophical system, individuals who are modern and compassionate have climbed the ladder of karmic rebirths and those who have not, will eventually do so.
I continue to remember that the change I can create (if any) is within myself. And such change can be powerful.