Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Sermon [White Fragility]

Hola Everybody...
Another hot day, summer in the city! I need to get off social media, especially the comments sections of articles on race. Wow, just WOW, white people!

It’s a hot-summer-in-the-city day, so I’m off to the beach.

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White Fragility
Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.
 -- Carl Jung

Anti-racist educator, Robin DiAngelo, has defined white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves… ” These defense mechanisms include outward displays of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and shutting down the conversation/ dialog

It’s enlightening to observe how some white people love me when I write about safe topics -- topics that deal with individual merit or self-actualization, or relationships! But I become the Latino Frankenstein when my topics are uncomfortable. Whenever I attempt to write about systemic issues regarding race, for example, I become a pariah. I am accused, often by white people, of being a “race-baiter” or of “playing the race card,” of being a divisive element in our society. If only I would shut up, white commenters often whine, the world would be a better place.

When I did anti-oppression work, I would tell my workshop participants that staying in a comfort zone would amount to nothing. Committing the same actions and expecting different results is the best definition of insanity. In order to create meaningful change, we first have to get out of our comfort zones and face some ugly truths about ourselves.

People say that I shouldn’t write or talk or agitate against racism. That doing so is the problem and that if I only stopped thinking and talking about it so much, it wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Individuals like me who point out racism, it follows, are the problem! In other words, I should shut up.

I’m here today to tell you that this so-called victim mindset I am being accused of is bullshit Let me state what is probably already evident. To delve into the study of racism is to come face-to-face with the heart of the heart of darkness, to borrow Conrad’s phrase. To look into this darkness is to know despair. I certainly know this journey has been difficult for me. It’s easy to be overcome by the reality of de facto racism -- to realize we haven’t really come that far.

But I will say this much: to know despair, to see injustice and resolve not to do anything about it is the essence of victimization. So, I ain’t shutting up anytime soon. Want to be a vic? Go ahead, keep your head in the sand. Don’t talk about it, don’t do anything about it. Neurosis is never a good substitute for suffering, it’s merely a series of strategies designed to avoid the painful.

If you’re going to engage me, you will surely feel the despair I speak of, you will begin to see some of this darkness. There will be times where you will become angry and defensive and -- really -- I can be wrong at times. That’s OK. the only thing white people need to decide is if they’re willing to shut the fuck up for a moment and actually consider that what I am saying or pointing to has merit. Too often white people will immediately dismiss any attempt to dialog and adopt an authoritative position. Fuck you with that bullshit. The fact of the matter is you don’t know jack shit. Really.

Many will not engage me, many more won’t even come around. That’s okay; I am not here to judge, or to influence people, or make friends, only to tell the truth. I will say this much: Dr. Jung was correct. You don’t evolve into an integrated human being by stubbornly refusing to peer into the darkness. That’s better known as neurosis. It’s the same as looking for a lost key under a street lamp because it’s the only area where there’s light.

If you choose to speak truth to power, it will be a lonely journey at first. People will tell you that you’ve lost your mind, that you’re part of the problem, and you will feel an almost overwhelming pressure to stop. I’m here to tell you that if you succumb to that fear, if you collapse under the weight of that despair, then you’re the ultimate victim.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Plato's Retreat

Hola mi gente...
The right wing, having lost on the marriage equality front, has now turned its warped attention to reproductive health and rights. To be sure, even mainstream news sources have thoroughly debunked the videos now wending their way through the innernetz. Here’s the problem, they don’t care if their efforts are rightfully debunked as bullshit. The USA’s version of the Taliban simply want to fling as much shit as possible to see what sticks. I’ve seen better behaved zoo monkeys. [LINK]

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 If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life.
-- Plato (c.427–347 BC)

To paraphrase a great man, I believe that the unexamined life – a life in which nothing is questioned – is a life not worth living. Life is the most precious gift we have and we all take it for granted to varying degrees. I was fortunate in that my father instilled within me a love for knowledge. I have an insatiable curiosity that has been the source of constant enjoyment in my life. This love for knowledge is a value I have attempted to instill in my son.

One day, when he was about eight years of age, we were watching some martial arts movie and I mentioned to him that Steven Seagall couldn’t hold a candle to Bruce Lee. He had never heard of Bruce Lee. We rented some Bruce Lee movies and he got the “Kung Fu bug.” At various times during my life (beginning at age 12), I have studied the martial arts under several teachers, mostly in the Wing Chun style (which was Bruce Lee’s first art). So I made a pact with my son: we would study together under a sifu (teacher) I knew, but he had to commit to become a “scholar-warrior.” 

The “Scholar-Warrior” is an archetype that appears in most cultures throughout history: the samurais, the knights, the Buddhist monks, and nuns of China, etc. The Scholar-Warrior learned not only the martial arts, but also the fine arts of poetry and painting, and music; and they learned the healing arts. Scholar-Warriors were well-rounded individuals who represented the best of their culture.

My son fell for it, hook, line, and sinker… LOL! He and I (along with my partner at the time) studied the martial art of Wing Chun for several years. As part of that training, we learned many things: reiki, chi exercises, knowledge of herbs, healing arts, etc.

The following is one of the first lessons I taught my son after he took the “Vow of the Scholar-Warrior”... 

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

Plato is considered one of the most important intellectual figures in Western history. He was the founder of the first university, “The Academy,” where students read the Socratic dialogues. The essence of Plato’s philosophy is demonstrated in the allegory of the Myth of the Cave, which appears in his work, The Republic.

In this myth, Plato proposes the following vision: Imagine prisoners chained in such a way that they face the back wall of a cave. They have been there for life and can see nothing of themselves or of each other. They see only shadows on the wall of the cave.

The shadows are caused by a fire that burns on a ledge above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners is a path lined with a wall along which people carrying vases, statues, and other artifacts on their heads. The prisoners hear the echoes of voices and see the shadows of the artifacts, and they mistake those echoes and shadows for reality.

The point of the allegory is that our purpose in life is break free of those chains and venture out of the cave into the open in order to experience reality. That “steep and rugged ascent” is Plato’s allegory of education and leads us out into the real world of sunlight and knowledge where we can truly gaze upon the sun (the sun being the allegory of enlightenment).

Plato suggests that if such a man were to attempt to return to the cave and liberate the other prisoners, they would set upon him and kill him. The allegory of the cave, with its story of the liberation of the prisoner from darkness, deceit, and untruth and the ensuing hard journey into the light and warmth of the Truth has inspired many philosophers and social leaders. But Plato meant this allegory as more than mere poetic vision. He used this work, to give it a precise, technical application. Within this application, he was able to offer a map in which opinion and knowledge are clearly marked.

However, that would take too long right now and I need to get dressed and get out of here! LOL

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…


[un]Common Sense