Just last week the Conference Minister for my church came to speak to us about his Immersion Seminar at Centro Romero.
I was extremely moved by the experience and by listening to his personal stories about the Mexican and US Border situation in California, New Mexico and Arizona. These stories had a profound effect upon my thinking and they remained in the forefront of my mind as I traveled and returned from the celebration to honor my Aunt’s life, which was held in Canada.
I learned about how farmer’s were selling their productive farms to the folks who wanted to build factories and were then hired as cheap labor, how recently the factory owners have found cheaper labor elsewhere, those farmers are being sent away with nothing – no work, no money, and no farms for food. I learned about all the water pollution from the factories that is causing the shanty towns to have ever increasing birth defects. I learned about stimulus money being spent on more and more WALLS and how the latest and best wall, was scaled by 2 young women in 18 seconds (I understand there is a You Tube Video available – but I could not find it)
I learned about dehydrations, kidnappings, prostitution, rapes, and shootings are a daily part of life for those seeking work and a better life and future. I learned about all the advertizing of the USA as the land of milk, honey and opportunity and as a way to get away from the drug war and warlords.
We talked about how one could get people to stay home and be empowered to change their culture and society. We talked about fear and how it is just permeating our daily lives and how we live in a culture of fear, and how we feed and nurture the fear. How we are a part of the destruction and how we can be a part of the rebuilding of hope and future.
The Reverend Denton talked about being in Arizona when the people were killed in Tuscan and how the people that he was staying with were totally convinced that this was the start of a war of the borders and they were going to be killed at any moment. The fear radiated everywhere. There was an assumption of violence. Folks were presenting arms. FEAR was in the air they were breathing.
Turning People into the OTHER. Dehumanizing. Degrading.
What could we do to counter balance this fear, this violence? What could we do to raise up the human spirit and promote justice and peace?
Then Rev. Denton reminded us that we in Washington State and all the states along the Canadian Border are under the same laws as those people in Arizona. That thousands of pounds of marijuana and other drugs come into these states on a daily basis and already WALLS are being constructed – Drones make night flights filming the borders and the perpetrators. The forces against this flow are contracted troops and not under military jurisdiction. Violence and fear are already here…and the problems of the migrant workers and the people left behind.
I saw evidence of our new thinking about our Northern Neighbors (and my family) as I went across the border 2 times this weekend. The man sitting behind me on the ferry spent a part of the trip explaining to his Asian friend how Canadians had too many people from Pakistan in their country and the whites were too passive to be worthwhile, but it was a good place to come to play and drink.
The Border Agents took a great deal of time sizing up each passenger as they entered each country.
I do not have any solutions to share other than my 15 years of work with Nonviolent Communications by Dr. Marshal Rosenberg, work on relocalization, and all my work in the area of social justice.
My best idea is to educate and work at stopping the expansion of fear and violence. We must stop saturating ourselves with violence towards the other and bathing in the waters of fear. We need to daily work on our kindness to others right in our own neighborhoods and call out injustice in our own cities and towns. We must each become the Velveteen Rabbit with no fur remaining.
I opened my new book from Pema Chödrön, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from old Habits and Fears and found comfort in her words, I want to share them with you:
“We have a tendency to label one another as an irritating person, a bore, a threat to our happiness and security, as inferior or superior; and this goes way beyond our close circle of acquaintances at home or at work.
“This labeling can lead to prejudice, cruelty, and violence; and in any time or place when prejudice, cruelty and violence occur, whether it’s directed by one being toward another or by groups of beings towards other groups, there’s a theme that runs through: “This person has a fixed identity, and they are NOT LIKE ME. We can kill someone or we can be indifferent to the atrocities perpetrated on them because THEY ‘RE JUST HAJIS, or THEY’RE JUST WOMEN, or THEY’RE JUST GAY. You can fill in the blank with any racial slur, any dehumanized label that’s ever been used for those we consider different.
“There’s a whole other way to look at one another- and that is to try dropping our fixed ideas and get curious about the possibility that nothing and no one remains always the same. This starts, of course, with getting curious and dropping the limiting stories we’ve created about ourselves. Then we have to stay present with whatever is happening to us. What I find helpful is to think of whatever I am experiencing – whether it’s sadness, anger, or worry; pleasure, joy or delight – as simply the dynamic , fluid energy of life as it is manifesting right now. That shifts the resistance I have to my experience. Because I’ve been practicing this approach for some years now, I’ve come to have confidence in the capacity for open receptivity, for wakefulness and nobility in all beings. And I’ve seen that how we regard and treat one another can draw this nobility out”
“Anything we experience, no matter how challenging, can become an open pathway to awakening.”
My Aunt Margery was a woman who radiated a warm loving spirit and every person who experienced her felt special and honored. I would add I truly felt loved whenever I was with her.
I experienced two major lessons in my life this week and both are on my mind. I want to be a peacemaker and not feed the fear and violence against others and I want to be like my Aunt and honor others I meet along my journey.
How do you think we should eliminate this fear in ourselves and in our world? How do you tear down walls?
I would add on a global scale of thinking how do you think we can end the USA’s addiction to drugs and resources and figure out a reality that is honest and true?
Looking forward to your comments:
Related reading you might also enjoy:
Hats off to two wonderful world changing men and the books about them
We have met the Enemy by Daniel Akst
Border Songs by Jim Lynch
Mug vs Heart
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