May 29, 2019
I Can't Keep Quiet Anymore
Luisa (my almost 4 year old daughter) asked me to play one of her favorite songs today. She calls it the Women’s March song. It’s a song called Quiet by Milck. Every time I hear it I feel the fire of passion that has lived in my body since I was a young girl. That fire is a deep desire for equity and justice. A longing to live in a world that feels fair and just.
Shortly after we sang along to Milck's song I was out on a walk and listening to Super Soul Sunday. Oprah’s guest was Sister Joan Chittister and they were discussing her newest book, The Time is Now. Within the first 2 minutes of their conversation Sister Joan said, “I don’t want to go to my grave and on my last sick bed say to myself...and you said nothing.”
A sign? Maybe.
A call to speak up? Maybe.
There are certainly moments when I choose to look away. When I choose not to speak up.
Sometimes I am afraid of offending people or coming off as too angry (which I am… really angry...that’s why I started boxing).
I am afraid that I might lose friends, students, followers on social media. In all honesty 70 people unfollowed me last week when I chose to speak my truth that I am unapologetically pro-choice. I won't go into that here. And please stay with me...even if this statement made you angry.
Sometimes I don’t speak up because I am overwhelmed. I am tired. I am grieving. Honestly there have been several moments over the past 2 years where my nervous system has felt beyond its capacity to cope. Thank God for my yoga practice. And almost none of what is happening will directly impact my life so I can’t even imagine what it might feel like for someone whose life is deeply impacted by the decisions being made from my small town in San Clemente, to Alabama, to Washington.
Maybe you can relate?
There is no question that we are living in a time of great division. This is a divisiveness that I have not seen in my lifetime (42 years). And I believe that we are fighting for the soul of our nation right now. Fighting for the lives of those living on the margins. Many of us (White people especially) have been asleep for a long time. We have been quiet. We have been unaware (because we aren’t paying attention...because privilege). It’s time to LISTEN to what POC have been saying for hundreds of years. Follow the lead of those who have been brave enough to speak, to march, to boycott, to lose their lives for freedom and justice.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep quiet anymore.
Many people make the choice not to get into this conversation because it is uncomfortable, it is confronting, it might require a change in how we live our lives. Or maybe you just aren't a political person. I would argue that saying you are not political is making the statement that you are perfectly ok with the way things are going in our country. It's a political statement in it's own right.
Here's an important question to contemplate, especially if you have a spiritual practice like yoga. Should we separate politics and our spiritual practice? I guess that is up to each of us individually, but it is my not so humble opinion that we cannot. If we try there will be cognitive dissonance and we will get sick.
When I consider my own spiritual practice, which is both yoga and Christianity I know that there are several values that are central; love, compassion, truth, honesty, justice, non-greediness are a few that come to mind. These have to be a part of my everyday life and that includes politics. How I vote is just a part of that. Once I vote how am I holding my elected officials accountable to these values? How do I vote with my dollars? How am I buying into this system of consumerism? Am I aware of how my choices, everyday, impact the world? Do I speak up when I see injustice in my neighborhood, workplace, family, country?
Based on the core values of yoga (and most other spiritual practices) there are few questions we can begin to ask:
- Can we truly believe in compassion, but not act in some way to disrupt oppression? Perhaps we instead choose to turn our heads and pretend not to see because it is really uncomfortable to see the systemic oppression that is so insidious in our culture.
- Can we truly believe in honesty, but not tell the truth? Or believe the lies that are being circulated through the media everyday?
- Can we truly say we are yogis and still celebrate a world that is steeped in separation through ‘rugged individualism’?
- Can we truly believe in Asteya (non-stealing) and support runaway Capitalism?
- Can we truly believe that we are ‘all one’ knowing:
- There are children being separated from their families at the border?
- People are being killed in mass shootings every single day without any legislation to stop it?
- Black and brown, unarmed, bodies are being killed by law enforcement officers without cause?
- Access to healthcare, education, clean water, basic human rights are not equally distributed?
And then we must reckon with the destruction of the earth. The use and abuse of her natural resources. If we continue to live this way as a nation we may not survive as a people on this planet. This is not my opinion. This is the consensus of climate change scientists across the world. We HAVE to change.
Environmental justice and social justice are interconnected. Those who are living on the margins are also those who are impacted the most by climate change and what causes it; where landfills are located, where drilling happens, where industry is likely to pollute the air we breathe and the water supply.
Our call to action in this moment is to join the conversation. To get uncomfortable. Use your yoga practice to stay present to what shows up for you in these conversations. We have been preparing for this moment of reckoning. And being comfortable and complacent is what got us here in the first place. We have been asleep at the wheel. And when I say we, I mean White people who consider themselves moderate/progressive, White people who have economic privilege and who don’t need for much, White people who have been complacent….and complicit. It’s time to take a look. A good hard look at ourselves. And then do something about it.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." --Dr Martin Luther King
What matters to you? What is important to you in this moment of change? Are you willing to seek out the truth? Are you willing to learn and study and get into the conversation? Are you willing to get uncomfortable?
What can’t you keep quiet about anymore? Without shame. Without worry that you might lose friends, or a job, or customers.
Say it loud. Speak your truth.
Because at the end of your life you don't want to look back and say...and I said nothing.
Because our world desparately needs more compassion.
The world needs to hear your voice. The world needs all of us who believe in justice and hope and truth.
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