Thursday, December 11, 2014

A perspective for #AllLivesMatter

In the Pagan community, there is a unique respect for life.  All life is sacred, is immanently divine. So it makes sense that some people feel it is important to maintain that focus, to try to prevent false dichotomies and the creation of a hierarchy of life that is valued. I can understand that underlying concern behind the conversation.

But you see, that is already what has been happening. For centuries in the United States, some lives have been valued more than others. Black people are not always at the bottom of that hierarchy, it’s true. There are many lives that have fallen victim to the patriarchal over-culture.

For me, coming up in the feminist Goddess movement, my focus and concern has always been the influence of patriarchy on society. My knee jerk reaction is to say: “But, WOMEN are a larger group than any single race or culture. What about THE WOMEN!” However, we have enough awareness to recognize that patriarchy does not only affect women. And make no mistake, it is patriarchy and the oppress-and-dominate over-culture that is at fault for all devaluing of life.

My teacher, Shekhinah Mountainwater, told me the story of the 100th Monkey. I don’t know how factual it is, but it goes something like this: there was an isolated community of monkeys living in a rainforest near a river. The monkeys would gather food as they do. One day, a female started washing her food in the river. The next day, another monkey joined her. Each day, another monkey would join this revolutionary group, but the rest of the group continued gathering food the usual way, dirt and all. On the 100th day, another monkey joined. Seeing how many monkeys had joined the river group, suddenly all the monkeys started washing their food.

This story illustrates the concept of the “tipping point” or critical mass. There was no indication as to why all of the monkeys suddenly decided to change their behavior pattern. But suddenly, one act changed the entire community.

We can no longer ignore the fact that in our society, at this time, Black people are disproportionately victimized by police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and the daily effects of racism and prejudice. We are reaching critical mass. This does not leave out any other race, culture, or community. What it means is that THIS is the act that has the potential to start large-scale social change. It even has historical precedence (who can deny the influence of the Civil Rights movement?).

So, let it. You don’t have to get behind it if you don’t want to. But if we reach the tipping point, the cascade of social change has the potential to benefit All Lives. And there will be a new set of powerful allies to help.

If you are struggling with the idea, ask yourself, what are you afraid of? If Black Lives Matter is successful, what do you have to lose? What belief that you hold is threatened? Once you figure out what is at the root of your struggle, you can decide if it is really worth holding on to. 

If you feel you need to hold up the perspective that All Lives Matter, remember:

“We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.” – Dalai Lama XIV