Pandemic life, racism, uncertainty, and peace

I have deliberated for a brief period regarding what, if anything, I should write. My last entry came before our society was faced in earnest with a global pandemic, a new invisible enemy. We also have been grappling with an old invisible enemy, one that is even more difficult to fight than a virus- racism. In some ways both enemies exist and thrive because of the same conditions we provide for them.

The virus exists within its host, and briefly on surfaces outside of the host. It can do great harm, indeed even kill, whether the host is aware of its existence or not. It travels quickly from person to person provided that we are sufficiently complacent and allow it easy access. Some of us amplify this easy access by decrying the very existence of the virus, by refusing to adopt essential protective measures, and by suggesting that an abusive government is responsible for yet another controlling overreach. All of this creates an environment rich in ignorance and confusion, what Master Takuan Soho would classify as an abiding place, the place where the mind stops.

None of us can know what our future holds. None of us can safely predict what changes this virus will make for us, though many are moving ahead with plenty of predictions. As you move closer to wisdom, however, you will spend less energy proclaiming what you know.

Our old enemy, racism, exists also within us, and, as much as we allow it, beyond ourselves as well. This is in the form of laws, procedures, and practices which have been called into existence by us, and which offer an unseen advantage to the dominant culture. Unseen, of course, is the condition which exists when one is sufficiently complacent to allow it. If you are a member of the dominant group, the easiest “defense” against racism is to deny its existence, or at least to deny that you are a part of it. You can’t recall getting any advantages. You wonder what people mean by institutional racism, and figure it must be some sort of made up issue. By easy defense I mean another form of ignorance, or another abiding place. When the mind stops, any hope of victory or advancement toward enlightenment also ends.

What must the responses be in the face of unseen enemies? In much the same way as one would face the sword of an enemy, removing the sword and using it against him would be essential. The sword in the case of these foes is the environment of ignorance. Ignorance itself is a weapon. Those who attempt to control information rather than to seek and share truth, they are creating the environment of ignorance and confusion. They are offering narratives which provide answers in situations where the truth is not known, or is too elusive to know with our current base of knowledge. The narratives are attractive because they give us what we want. If you want to find confirmation or support in your belief system, whatever it might include, such support will be quickly found in cyberspace. We can all find groups to help empower us, but if you are taking part in yet another disguised exercise in recreating a society out of balance, what value is there in being right?

So in moving, and not stopping, in giving your mind no particular place to abide, you allow your mind to be everywhere at once. We know that there are good and wise practices. We know that there are good and wise manners. When we see the world and others in it as each being worthy of what is good, this is a good starting point. When we see things as they are, and see people as all having the same divine essence that can be called life, how else can you respond but with goodness?

Move forward along the path of peace. As often as you are able, exist in the moments. We too often become obsessed with all of the possibilities, both real and imagined, and effectively become frozen in inaction. In the moment, the now, there is only the moment. The moment is all that is truly real. Your breath is not filled with anger or anxiety. Your breathing is not hateful or racist. When you give yourself more to existing in the true moment, false fears and barriers gradually drop away.

Do this and in all things strive for benevolence and righteousness. There will those who look at you as weak. Some will call you out and label you with the degrading names that are in fashion. Do not worry over this. This is nothing. Goodness and righteousness are not tarnished even if dragged through the mud.

Every act of goodness adds to goodness and becomes amplified by others of its kind. The water that falls as rain can be seen as good. If I ran about trying to catch individual drops, I would certainly be foolish and would fail. If I allow the water to simply be, and if I encourage its flow into a rain barrel, then I have taken this goodness and amplified its effects. I can take this water, so heavy now that the barrel will not be moved, and distribute it again in times of dryness. I can still benefit from the goodness by giving it. Our own inner well of goodness, our own capacity for doing good, is without limit. We can always do good, or not, in any situation.

Live in this way. Be a force for goodness in your own life. Your example will inspire others to do the same.

Be at peace.

Published by blytheobservations

I’m an educator for many years in the great Midwest. I try to focus on being a decent human. My three kids are hopefully learning good things from me. Perfectly boiling an egg has been added to the resume. We take pleasure in small victories. I’m probably driving around right now looking for firewood.

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