Message Boards Message Boards

Brahmaviharas

"If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"

Toggle
"If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/19/15 10:39 AM
Henry Louis Gates: If Clementa Pinckney Had LivedThe Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney in 2011.GRACE BEAHM / THE POST AND COURIER, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney in 2011.
GRACE BEAHM / THE POST AND COURIER, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
By HENRY LOUIS GATES Jr.
JUNE 18, 2015
I have no doubt that had the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney lived, he would have become known — and celebrated — across our country for his leadership, rather than sealed immortally in tragedy, one more black martyr in a line stretching back to the more than 800 slave voyages that ended at Charleston Harbor.

I know this because I filmed a long interview with Mr. Pinckney — who was killed in his church in Charleston, S.C., along with eight congregants on Wednesday evening — for a PBS documentary series three years ago. It was clear that there was a reason this young man had been called to preach at 13, to minister at 18, to serve in the State Legislature at 23, and to shepherd one of America’s most historic black churches at 26, reminding us of other prodigies — and martyrs — for whom the Good Book has served as a bedrock of public service. He was 41 when he died.

It was Oct. 26, 2012, shortly before the last presidential election, and I was talking to Mr. Pinckney and to State Representative Kenneth F. Hodges about Robert Smalls, a slave who, at the height of the Civil War, commandeered a Confederate ship to sail to freedom beyond Charleston Harbor and ended up returning home to serve in the State Legislature during Reconstruction — representing the very area these two men now served.

“I think about what it must have felt like to be a young black man in America” back then, Mr. Pinckney told me, “to see the state and the country go through tremendous change and to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of everybody.” He added that if Smalls, an escaped slave, could make “substantial, systematic changes,” then “I have the same kind of responsibility to work to make a difference.”

Mr. Pinckney paused to clarify his words.

“Now, well, do I say I’m Smalls?” he said. “No, because there’s only one, there’s only been one Robert Smalls. But I think, as being a House member who served in the old Beaufort district that he used to serve in and a state senator that serves that same area, I think I ought to give it my absolute best to try to make a difference with the lives of the people I represent and the people of South Carolina, whether it be in supporting public education, supporting our troops, or wanting to see all people do well in South Carolina.”

All of these things, this quietly impressive man did, and did nobly.

What makes rereading the transcript of our interview so poignant for me today is the reminder that, for one still so young, Mr. Pinckney was deeply aware of the history he carried within himself, a history of the courageous and the slain, of the triumphant and the terrorized. He was fluent in the lives and careers of brave black people who had served state and church since the Civil War. He was acutely conscious of the missed opportunities of Reconstruction, of the contradictions that could have been settled, of the innocent lives that could have been spared, a century before the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, had Americans following the Civil War only been willing to put racial healing and equal economic opportunity first.

The “unfinished work” of America — to quote Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — didn’t prevent him from loving the South and his country, and feeling a claim to its blessings. “I think it really says that America is changing,” he said of President Obama’s election, “and I think it signals to the world that the American dream is still alive and well.”

Today, our interview seems so long ago. I asked him that day if we were still fighting the Civil War in South Carolina. He answered: “I think South Carolina has — and across the South we have — a deep appreciation of history. We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s histories. We have, you know, many reenactments across the state and sometimes in our General Assembly I feel that we’re fighting some of the old battles.”

To know him, even over the course of an autumn Carolina afternoon, was to know a man who cherished the values on which our republic was founded, and who held an abiding faith that the great promise of America could, one day, be fulfilled. He was a unifier who, this past spring, taught us how to mourn in communion with one another, following the police slaying of Walter L. Scott, a black man, just north of his city. I don’t believe that he had the capacity to imagine the depth of malice and anger that came down on his congregation, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, on Wednesday night.

Though the Confederate flag still waves above the Statehouse where Mr. Pinckney worked, a monument to the African-American freedom struggle stands nearby, a monument of which he told me he was proud. It is that legacy that will prevail.

“Why does black political participation matter so much?” I asked him.

“We need to be a part, if we want a say in our own life, if we want to be independent, if we want to influence what’s happening around us,” he replied. “Or the reverse is to let everybody else control and influence and then we just sort of take whatever comes. That’s what slaves did. But, you know, we’re not slaves. We’re Americans, so we have a responsibility to look at ourselves — self-help, if you will. I also think that we have a historic legacy that we need to uphold.”

Citing the proverbial “Grandmother’s Prayer,” he said: “Lord, let me be free. If not me, my children. If not my children, my children’s children.” He added: “We don’t have that privilege to say our vote doesn’t count because history tells us different.”

In parting, Mr. Pinckney told me he would be praying for President Obama on Election Day. Sadly, today, it was Mr. Obama who found himself praying for Mr. Pinckney. May we all pray for the soul of Clementa Pinckney, and pray that his children and their children, all our children, be free of the curse of violence.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/24/15 3:14 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hmm, 70 views and no replies. Do people not want to talk about racism here?  How many of the people at DhO are white? How many of the people at DhO are not white? 

“I think about what it must have felt like to be a young black man in America” back then, Mr. Pinckney told me, “to see the state and the country go through tremendous change and to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of everybody.” He added that if Smalls, an escaped slave, could make “substantial, systematic changes,” then “I have the same kind of responsibility to work to make a difference.”

I'd add that it's especially the moral duty and responsibility of white people to work to make a difference.  Black people aren't holding themselves down or oppressing themselves, ya know.  Black people didn't create the prison industrial complex and overwhelmingly disproportinately incarcerate themselves.  

Discuss.  The "race is empty" card has been removed from the deck, by the way, if you were planning on throwing that one on the table.


RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/24/15 5:42 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph SHmm, 70 views and no replies. Do people not want to talk about racism here?  How many of the people at DhO are white? How many of the people at DhO are not white? 
I know it is too much to ask, but someday,  I hope humanity could look at different skin colors the same way humanity looks and the different petal colors of the flowers.  

Skin Colors and Petal Colors,

Humans are Humans,

Flowers are Flowers.

Formations all.

Psi

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/24/15 8:32 PM as a reply to Psi.
Not sure if that's a reference to me using the race identifiers of white and black and saying you think I should see past that.. or if you're agreeing with what I said.. or something else.

The reason I put that the "race is empty" card is removed from the deck here is specifically to counteract the common white response of "I'm already colorblind." 

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/24/15 9:58 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Not sure if that's a reference to me using the race identifiers of white and black and saying you think I should see past that.. or if you're agreeing with what I said.. or something else.

The reason I put that the "race is empty" card is removed from the deck here is specifically to counteract the common white response of "I'm already colorblind." 

Reference to you? No, not at all, Steph.  No personal reference.  I am not here to offend anyone intentionally, though through my ignorance, I may do that at times. Sorry, if I did.

Just a wish for the future, A wish for a society more in line with Star Trek, where there are races aboard the Enterprise, but humanity has moved way past primitive racial issues.  

But, the reality is that here we are.

Someday, I think society will evolve past all of this, there has been progress , and this progress as a whole is moving forward.  Progress does not always move in a straight line or a systematic progression, more like two steps forward, one step back.

But, as one can not predict the future, humanity could degrade and De-evolve I suppose... We could overpopulate in the very near future and fight Resource wars over Oil , Uranium, and Water access, falling back into Tribalism, but with Nukes and Tanks.  It would be sad, but perhaps not surprising.  

As a whole, humanity is as ignorant as Ants, maybe not as organized and cooperative as Ants, but...

Metta

emoticon

Psi

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/25/15 1:16 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:

I'd add that it's especially the moral duty and responsibility of white people to work to make a difference.  

I think it's the moral responsibility of everyone to make a difference.  I think all of the races have the exact same strengths and weaknesses, I see that many humans have anger inside and they blame it on other humans.  White people blame blacks, black blames white, in Africa, black tribes fight and inslave other black tribes, the Hatfields and the McCoys, humans do the same kinds of stuff all over, melanin production does not seem to have anything to do with it.  White people in some countries may have the upper hand currrently when it comes to numbers and economics, but if the situation were reversed, I think blacks or any other race for that matter, would be pulling the same baloney.  Because humans are humans and that's what humans often do.  Corruption exists all over.   

If we are going to end prejudice, it has to come from everyone, whites have to stop against other races and other races also will need to stop blaming other races as well.  Even in Japan where you'd think everyone looks fairly similar, they have certain bloodlines that are considered inferior and lowly (burakumin,) nearly outcasts in their own country, they face worse prejudice than the average black in this country.  When I was in school, there were gangs by race, blacks, Vietnamese, Chinese, Phillipino, etc and they all fought each other, it's not like any one race was some kind of peace loving kind and gentle innocent victim group, every race has a bunch of angry violent people.  If humans want to get their crap together, they will all need to stop blaming others and work on their own personal crap first.  I like the words of Iyanla Vanzant (a well known self help guru on TV) when she said, "As long as you're pointing that finger, you ain't fixin your shXt."  Brilliant words!

Yes I believe all the races are totally equal in both bad and good tendencies.  That's why I don't waste my time point fingers by race.  There are lots of good and bad people in all the races and I can't do much to control the actions of any of them.  The main thing I can do is work on fixing my own shXt right here right now and try to be a good example if I can. 
-Eva   



RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/25/15 9:25 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva,

I appreciate your response.  I agree that skin color is not the root cause of people being oppressed or oppressing other people, obviously.  And I don't doubt that there have been racially motivated civil wars and exploitation across all races in many parts of the world.  So then, I guess I should narrow it down even further, and say that I wanted to basically stick to the topic Katy brought up in the original post.  What I am interested in discussing here is racism in the United States specifically.  I'm not interested in conjecture of what might or could possibly happen if the tables were turned and white people were the oppressed ones in this country.  

I am interested in discussing what has *factually* happened in the history of the United States, and what continues to happen today, with regards to a system of power that is controlled by white people (as in, the vast majority of people with decision making & political power, and those with the greatest amount of monetary influence have historically been, and still are, white) and continues to very specifically target black people.  I don't know if you live in the US or not.  The reason I wanted to take this discussion here is because this message board seems to be interested in things like morality, ethics, and compassion - and so I was hoping to have a conversation about this very specific issue along those lines.

It is very difficult to have a serious conversation about racism in the US with white people. It's something that over the course of my life here that I have found that most white people shy away from, or diminish.  The going consensus is that racism is a thing of the past and any racism that still happens is minor in comparison to the days of slavery and segregation.  I haven't experienced slavery or segregation personally, and I wasn't alive during those time periods, so I can't actually say what that experience is like. I don't know if the experience of racism that black people have today is any worse, better, or anything else in comparison to those eras - and I'm not going to attempt to place some sort of scale or magnitude of comparison to the past on someone's current, very personal, lived experience.  I think white people telling black people that, "hey, it seems like things have gotten better!" is demeaning and a bit of a conversation stopper - as in, "i think things are pretty much okay now, so we don't have to talk about it."  

So then, what are your lived experiences of racism in the US - anyone reading? What prevents you from addressing it or discussing it - or what are you doing to discuss it or address it?  

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/25/15 1:28 PM as a reply to Steph S.
The thing to understand is this is a meditation oriented board for topics related to meditation and the like.  Yes, topics do tend to range widely but there is an attempt to keep it related to Buddhist or meditation related material.  The emphasis in these teachings tends to be strongly towards self inquiry and working on the self.  Yes, there are many horrible things in the world including much prejudice in many forms by many peoples including whites against blacks and other races in the United States.  I would certainly not deny that. But the emphasis for meditation practitioners tends to be strongly oriented towards the inward search and how to find peace within yourself.  The more you can do that, the more there tends to be compassion and understanding of other individuals regardless of race or other superficial differences.  But the emphasis tends to be very internal, hence my quote from Iyanla.  The idea, IMO, is that the most efficient route to handling humanity's problems is better internal understanding of self first. 

If the behaviors of humans were like the branches of a tree, then meditation focuses more on the trunk of the tree, when the trunk changes, then different branches will be grown in the future.  There are many meditation practitioners that spend time volunteering in the community for various causes but they typically don't come on here and discuss what is the best way to cure the drug addicted, help starving Africans, lessen fighting in Somalia, stop human trafficking, or improve race relations in the United States.  There are many difficult problems all over but it's just not the topic area of this board and by it's very nature, ie concentrating on the branches of the tree and not the trunk, those discussions tend to, IMO, be a bit opposite of the direction that meditation is typically directed, the idea being that focusing closer to the single source of many problems is more efficient than focusing on just one single problem among many.   That's why we focus internally.  THe more we focus towards the source, IMO,  the more the many many other problems tend to improve as a result.
-Eva 

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/25/15 8:05 PM as a reply to Steph S.
It is very difficult to have a serious conversation about racism in the US with white people.
Just as true for other races, in my experience. I have thought a lot about race but when I have tried to discuss it with others I have been shut down with platitudes... none of which actually produce harmony.

It's something that over the course of my life here that I have found that most white people shy away from, or diminish.  The going consensus is that racism is a thing of the past and any racism that still happens is minor in comparison to the days of slavery and segregation.

I don't really think that is entirely the going consensus.

What interests me is the simultaneous powerful faith in the belief that "racism is terrible" and the actuality of constant tension between races. What is going on with that? People are apparently racists (this applies to all races) and are strictly anti-racism. White guilt is a very real phenomena and yet it is apparently not real enough that it can have much of a meaningful effect on racist beliefs and behaviors. I think that opening this can of worms is generally avoided because nothing people try seems to produce genuine results.

Part of the reason is that most dialogue about race involves a double standard. That double standard (for the U.S.) is basically that white nationalism is bad and other-race nationalism is good. However when the nationalism of a minority becomes too powerful the consensus view shifts to the polar opposite. It seems that minority nationalism is supported so long as the minority are no threat to the majority. By feeding the minority 'crumbs' they are kept from getting so hungry that they enter into open rebellion.

In my own experience (im white) the only time I have ever been robbed (or had any crime commited with me as the specific victim) was by a pair of black teenagers, and I truly had a hard time seeing black people the same way after that. Do I discount my experience based on an attempt to faithfully accept that "all races are the same" simply because doing so will keep me from being disapproved of by my peers?

I have also noticed that some black people I treat as equal to a white person, and my perception has always been that blackness is not a big part of how they define themselves. They are friendly to me and they are not defensive. I have noticed the same process happen in the opposite direction where I did not cling to my whiteness and the people I was talking to were suddenly not defensive either. So that you don't get me wrong, I am not saying that racism is black people's fault. I am just saying that it is not rational to pretend that white people are just victimizing black people for kicks. There is a power struggle between races because people naturally identify with those who are similar to them and are afraid, thus aggressive to those who are different.

The solution for this is not to scapegoat an abstract group of "racists" that is basically fantasy and catharsis. Instead racism is a spectrum that people are on, to whatever degree their conditioning has dictated.

Nor is the solution to love/trust/accept/tolerate/not judge the other race, because that solution is very ineffective because it requires constant effort, vigilance, and suppression of the fear and aggression that are beneath the surface. The suppression is never truly constant however, especially in the sort of scenarios where things of importance are at stake.

So what is the solution? I am waiting to hear what your ideas are, here are mine.

First of all, black and white people do not have different levels of responsibility, they have whatever level of responsibility they set for themselves. Responsibility is ultimately just imagination and social consensus, it can be ignored at any time. Trying to make other people take responsibility ultimately amounts to telling them they will be punished in some way (even if just being shunned or ridiculed) for not adopting your moral views.

Additionally, whoever is suffering the most about race is the one who will feel more responsibility and will take action. If that action is an attempt to change others then violence results. If that action is an attempt to change themself then peace results. This is just the reality - people trying to change out of an attempt to be morally good[1] will never muster enough intent to change themselves, and people who try to change others rather than themselves will just add more conflict. Only unilateral action will do the trick, and only for your own personal peace and interpersonal harmony. Everyone's happiness is in their own hands.

p.s. I guess this is pretty much what eva said.

[1] That intention is selfish and just based on fear of punishment, it will only run as deep as that fear does which isn't deep enough to make much of a difference.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 12:33 AM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph, 

Thank you for bumping this thread. 



Eva, Adam, Psi, Steph --- you all who've responded so far --- thanks. 

I did post this with several feelings. Among these feelings, I was taking refuge in the words I put in bold from both Pinckney's and Gates Jr. (above), and, from my pretty sheltered position, also (to borrow an old expression) trying "To light a candle, instead of cursing the dark," here borrowing candles from Gates and Pinckney and bolding for me a few of their words.


This week I am watching press about the coming Empathy Museum, traveling the world starting this September. Here is their website: http://www.empathymuseum.com

And some articles about the museum's origin:
from the Independent yesterday and 2014 Guardian article.


In my hardest fears, detectable on and off the cushion, I do find that pragmatic investigation of human conditions will eventually locate the logic and reliablity of empathy and compassion. But, at least for me, emotional lashing out is more instinctive, at the forefront, when I ap/perceive some news/events and trainwreck conditions accruing, an my empathic feelings just seem like a car its tires spinning in deep mud.

Naturally, in that bog --- I look to role models, how they implement suffusive wisdom, compassion --- seeding really wonderful conditions despite immersion in awful conditions. They are epically sane, authentic persons to me. 

And there are non-human animals, too, doing this; some who stand by even other species to protect them. So, too, the human range, my range, a linear model on which to practice, incredibly keen and lucky to see the actions of these smart beings.


Deliberatly stepping back a little into emotionally "cooler" terrain, the step-by-step of daily effort that has to follow-up after huge events, I found a little practice piece / evidence raised by Claremont Graduate University, Center for Neuroeconomics Studies in the 2009 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,
"Empathy toward strangers triggers oxytocin release and subsequent generosity". 

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 9:01 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
We’re Americans, so we have a responsibility to look at ourselves — self-help, if you will. I also think that we have a historic legacy that we need to uphold.”
Clementa Pinckney

 May we all pray for the soul of Clementa Pinckney, and pray that his children and their children, all our children, be free of the curse of violence.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Indeed, all this vilolence, it is insanity.  The offspring of Hatred and Greed, Delusion.

Mind boggling that this occurs on such an astronomical scale, I looked up how many murders a day?  This is what I found.

Vienna, 10 April 2014 - Almost half a million people (437,000) across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, according to a new study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

And it is not really a race issue, it is a gender issue, 

Globally, some 80 per cent of homicide victims and 95 per cent of perpetrators are men. 

Natural Born Killers.

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2014/April/some-437000-people-murdered-worldwide-in-2012-according-to-new-unodc-study.html

But, alot of people murder themselves.

The report estimated that 815,000 people killed themselves in 2000 — making suicide the No. 13 cause of death worldwide. People older than 60 were most likely to take their own life.

Old age , alot of suffering, eh?

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-murder-a-minute/


I do not know how to get over it all when I hear of innocent people being murdered, I just shake my head in disbelief, yet I know it is a fact of life.

Delusion, and maybe there is just the fact of biological insanity, or just processed through evolution to be killers.  i.e. the nice humans that went to bed early and trusted their companions, woke up dead, and didn't reproduce, the killers lived, and had offspring.  Great, our genetic inheritence, thanks alot, evolution.  No wonder it is so hard to rewire and abandon Hatred, Greed and Delusion.  Duh.

“We have documented that the intentional interpersonal violence is a behavior that accompanies humans since at least 430,000 years ago, but so does the care of sick or even the care of the dead,” Sala says. “After all, we have not changed much in the last half million years.” Clubs don’t kill people. People kill people.

http://www.vocativ.com/culture/science/true-detective-scientist-cracks-murder-mystery/

What's a mother ta do?

Psi

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 8:15 AM as a reply to Psi.
HI Psi, 

Here's a small detail -- perhaps you will see a value in it? Could you attribute the excerpted speech in your post to the speakers? The first are Clementa Pinckney's words from a 2012 interview with Gates and the second are Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s words; but check.

I think the details really matter (even my proofreading and lack thereof); detail is applied mindfulness, a "citta" mirror.

What's a mother ta do?


Well, one DhOer (somewhat male in identity and presumably male in biology), in my opinion, uses his technical skills and incredibley friendly personality at work to just clearly state, by his own account, when there's a transgression, "Oh, that's discrimation." (My paraphase). To me, his steady conduct, his humor, his technical work, his basic winsomeness and safety to be around, I feel these make a good impression, and inspires logical change very naturally, efficiently.

I remember how quickly primates like ourselves learn (wholebrain learning, not brainstem's flight-fight-freeze) in the presence of reward. I can't think of a better reward than friendliness, equality (non-dominance), caring community with empathy and encouraged efforts.

It can sound very lofty, but when I use models to frame a goal, I get a lot closer to the goal and sometimes shoot past it. I don't seen anything here beyond the scope of human effort and skills.


edit: I bracketed a key word and that somehow caused it to be deleted.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 9:15 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
HI Psi, 

Here's a small detail -- perhaps you will see a value in it? Could you attribute the excerpted speech in your post to the speakers? The first are Clementa Pinckney's words from a 2012 interview with Gates and the second are Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s words; but check.
Done, sorry.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 9:21 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I see the point that the focus of DhO is more in line with the trunk of the trees, rather than the branches.  And I did wonder even before posting, if I would be going a bit off-topic, but decided to do it anyways.  I understand the elements I brought up may seem to go more into examining the existent effects of racism to various root causes of things we're examing here; hatred, ignorance, aggression, desire for power, dominance, etc. Yes, those root causes need to be examined personally and individually.  However, I also see that we study and examine morality here - the way in which we carry ourselves in the world and treat ourselves & other people kindly, cruelly, or anything else on that spectrum.  

For me, it is hard to put aside the effects from root causes and I do have a tendency to go towards the social, political landscape in my discussions.  The ethics of cultures and civil rights have been a longstanding interest.  And perhaps it is that interest that has lead to so much internal investigation on my part. The intellectual recognition of how power and dominance play out culturally, and also the lived, daily, ongoing, experience of my social place in the world - as a woman (read: another group of historically oppressed people) - keep that investigation going. Trust me, I have spent much of my adult life (and probably even before, back to being pretty young) investigating the various implications of that, seeking out my own ignorances and biases, the effects of "external" factors and their ignorances and biases.  The conclusion I have come to so far is that they are interdependent and I think the investigation of how external sociopolitical and internal factors influence and propagate eachother is important.  This isn't to say I can't sit on my butt quietly and meditate in its own right (not that I think you were implying that, just my own clarification), I'm talking more about the experience of daily life and the examinations that take place during that time. I spend most of my time thinking and analyzing, I suppose.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 9:23 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
I'm white, from a middle class background, and my entire life in the U.S., my potential, my career, my opportunity to practice the dharma hinge on this background. It is simultaneously the part and the whole of what I am. People may wish to focus on the absolute and leave the particular behind. But we never leave it behind. We always are what our context is. We can live with that or we can bypass it, but there it is. 

I have no experience navigating the world as a person of color. I am a historian, however (not of the U.S., but of Renaissance Europe), and while I may lack the depth of knowledge of my colleagues who specialize in race in my country, I have an appreciation for history and one's lived experience within one's own history. Thinking in terms of the absolute, time is an illusion, but in the world of our day to day living our history is always with us, personal history and collective history. 

Buddhism, as I understand it, is about seeing clearly what is. It's not all about sitting in meditation to find one's own private peace. If we follow the 8 fold path to right understanding, then we also commit to right action. True, there is so much suffering in so many parts of the world that my response too much of the time is overwhelm. Yet I would say that as a white person my first responsibility in regards to race in the U.S. is to get it, meaning commit to overcoming ignorance. The truth is in our faces every day. Black people, black men in particular, are more apt to live in poverty, be incarcerated, suffer from illness, and be murdered by police than white people. The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is very much with us now. 

Pretty much every white person has encounters with one or several or many black people in which race feels irrelevant. I don't know that the same is true for the black person, however; in fact, I'd be willing to say that for black people, race is never irrelevant. It is a great privilege to live in a world in which race feels irrelevant, to feel that we are free of all that suffering. To be black in America is never to be free of it, ever. There may be denial for some here and there, but denial is never freedom. 

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 11:38 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:


I remember how quickly primates like ourselves learn (wholebrain learning, not brainstem's flight-fight-freeze) in the presence of reward. I can't think of a better reward than friendliness, equality (non-dominance), caring community with empathy and encouraged efforts.

It can sound very lofty, but when I use models to frame a goal, I get a lot closer to the goal and sometimes shoot past it. I don't seen anything here beyond the scope of human effort and skills.


True, well said.  I will always to endeavor to practice non-discrimintation, and non-delusion, and to try to be easily admonished if I fall short, correct and proceed.

While at times, I may come across with an "All hope is lost" attitude, and "Humankind is too ignorant to rise above itself", I would never give in to unwholesomeness or give in to evil , if at all possible.

For to discriminate, and act out of delusion only adds to the problems humanity suffers from.

In my current view humanity suffers from delusion.  One delusion is, We are all related!  Not one human on this planet does not share a common ancestry with any other human on this planet.  To kill another is to kill a relative.

If humanity were to overcome delusion, there has to be a paradigm shift, a whole new paradigm way of conceptualizing, the planet, the humans on the planet, and our distant isolation from any other known habitable regions in the Universe.

Humanity is stranded on a small planet , in the middle of nowhere, yet we fight amongst ourselves, over delusionary concepts no less.  Humanity isn't even fighting over the last piece of meat, which at least makes some kind of sense, we are fighting over thought formations, ideas, delusionary ones at that...  That is Wacko!

Absurdity. emoticon

Metta to all

Psi

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
6/26/15 12:34 PM as a reply to Psi.
From another perspective to consider, I don't think we came here so that it could be all easy and relaxing.  From trials comes learning.  I learned the most when I was hardest pressed.  I don't think we came here to sit around and eat bonbons and strum harps all day.  Doing that, how much would we learn and how soon would we be massively bored?  Of course I am not saying in any way that such justifies doing bad things to others as it certainly does not, but I do suspect that people come here with a game plan and various hardships already planned.  It's from the hardships that you grow the most.  Looking back, I would have learned very very little if I had lead an easy and coddled life  .  I think people seek challenge and that's why they come here. 

For instance why do people want to climb Mount Everest or run a marathon?  They spend tons of money and risk their life and suffer for what?  Why do people play sports?  Why do people care even one iota who can take a flat chunk of graphite and smack a small orb around better than others?      IMO, we come to the Earth game to learn some lessons and if the game was not hard, we would not learn the lessons.  IMO, once we learned the lessons, then we are done with the Earth game, we are free of samsara.  Lives are like sessions, you learn as much as you can each life until you get tired and are done.   The Pinckney session is now completed and he will go on to do something else next.   IMO, that's why lives are not longer, it's because this game is hard and people need a rest and reboot after a while.  Research already shows the ones that live longest have the best attitude, ie they are better at not getting tired of it all which gives them a bit more longevity.   If you think that Pinckney is dead, it sounds so horrible but if you think instead that he was booted off the island (or was ready to leave), and will come back later with a different costume when he so chooses to see fit, that kind of thinking puts a different spin on the situation and a different feeling to outlook, it lets you not get so wrapped up in all the drama.

Reminds me of my mother, when she used to watch TV, she would get all wrapped up into it.  She would say things like, "Oh my God can you believe so and so actually killed so and so, that's so horrible and unfair!"  And I would say, "Whaddya mean, it's just a TV show, it's not real!"  And then she would snap out of the drama and say, "Of course I know that!"  But  I could not understand why, if she knew that, that she would be talking and emoting as if it was all totally really and someone really died and someone really did something horrible, when we all know that after the show, all the characters, even the 'dead' ones were probably eating a nice meal and telling jokes to eachother.  It's a perspective shift, from the perspective in the movie, many things seem completely horrible, but from the perspective of the watcher, it's just a drama tv show, no need to take it too seriously. 

Now if in the waking world, we do not actually disappear after the physical body's 'death,' and from many statements from those who have been on the edge of death, the other side seems fairly pleasant, then what does that mean about this game here on Earth that we play?
-Eva          

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
7/5/15 7:33 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Here is a long article by father, journalist, Brit heading back to England after 12 years reporting in the U.S. 

The Guardian, Gary Younge, "Farewell to America", July 1, 2015.
It a hard look, useful read; long. not long enough. 

Then there's this from PBS Frontline, March 4, 2015, on next steps with the Ferguson Police Department (for example...) and these sections below I isolated: some big challenges (really low number of investigations relative to departments) and the current prospects (at least 20 new investigations, and more on the role of media and society awareness):
(...)
In the past 20 years, the Justice Department has launched at least 65 so-called “pattern or practice” investigations of law enforcement agencies, 32 of which have led to agreements to reform, according to an analysis of DOJ data by Stephen Rushin, a professor at the University of Illinois Law School who studies police misconduct.
That’s a small number compared to the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
(...)
Under Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department has opened 20 investigations and negotiated agreements to implement reforms in 15 departments, including major cities like New Orleans, La., Portland, Ore., and Newark, N.J. It currently has nine open investigations.
(...)
But in some departments, it may be the only way to bring about significant change. Charles Ramsey was the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. when he asked the Justice Department to investigate in 1999, following a series of stories in The Washington Post that said that the department killed more residents per capita than police in any other major city.

The resulting agreement led to major reforms, significantly reducing the number of police shootings and boosting the department’s credibility in the community, Ramsey said.
“We would not have been able to make the changes we made without the consent decree,” he said at a 2013 conference. “We would have encountered push back from the union, and we would not have obtained the funding.”

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
7/5/15 7:39 PM as a reply to Psi.
"Humanity is stranded on a small planet , in the middle of nowhere, yet we fight amongst ourselves, over delusionary concepts no less.  Humanity isn't even fighting over the last piece of meat, which at least makes some kind of sense, we are fighting over thought formations, ideas, delusionary ones at that...  That is Wacko!"

On the one hand, one could argue that the violence of ideology is THE problem, belief in ground, unalterable certainty. Wacko would be an understatement of the century.

But on the other hand, the thought formations lead to meat or no meat. The battle of thought formations IS over the last piece of meat. We all have meat because of calculus, engineering, gives us refrigerators, we fight against thought formations like tyrrany with critical thinking so we have societies that permit mass scale material well being unlike N Korea, fight thought formations so we invest in solar energy, fight thought formations for equal right under law. All these fought with tooth and nail of hundreds of years. The world is a battleground of thought formations, a war for minds and attention that determines if our great grand children will have food or starve to death.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
7/5/15 8:29 PM as a reply to Steph S.
I've seen racism (especially from older generations) and my father went through some but the root to me is still competition over resources. Racism (which really includes hatred for people of the same race but a different ethnicity) is an aversion to differences. Since habits are addictions and if people cling to them then any encounters with people who have different habits leads to aversion, judgment, and hostility. Then if you add competition to resources then you get scapegoating (which fits into a speech on envy I'm going to present). 

As Rene Girard points out, it starts with at least two people who want the same thing but cannot share it (especially status). At least one person is savouring the desired object and another is watching the savouring and starting to think "I should want this too". Rivalry is starting already. Then there's more people added (villagers, collegues, competitors) and they tend to ally with the stronger competitor for self-interest reasons and they all scapegoat the weaker. Girard's prescription is being more Christian and on this board something like the Brahmaviharas is recommended but it's still a "change yourself to change the world" attitude.

There is pressure to conform in many areas of life and I find it even in things that have nothing to do with race. If your boss likes certain sports there's always a pressure that you must follow the same sports. There comparison envy related to whether the grass is greener on the otherside and people become hostile for the most petty things (your car is nicer, you have more education, you have better pay, you have better looks) it can be endless.

So basically the challenge is that envy and inflexibility towards different lifestyles would have to disappear. That's a tall order. So for African-Americans who want to see change the fastest route for them is to continuously improve themselves and to find ways to start businesses and become more and more financially independent. This is a big struggle for anyone to accomplish but with power comes respect. I knew one tax accountant who was in an office I worked at and he got tons of respect because he worked his ass off and proved his skills in the workplace. He was from Burundi but people didn't treat him any differently and in fact treated him better because of his contributions. Increasing economic status by brute force and increasing capital will bring respect faster than waiting for envy, bigotry, and objectification to go away. The objectifiers will look at people who newly have success and start objectifying respect in their direction. It's not perfect and Buddhist but it's faster and more expedient.

My father went through tons of racism even from people who were younger and technically paid less years of taxes than my Dad did. He had one boss who liked Hitler and Mussolini and ran his department that way. My Dad got no overtime pay for long periods of time until he was able to join a union. Then the management did whatever they could to eliminate his position. After lawsuits and union meetings people who represented my Dad saw that he was being harrassed. He was able to threaten suit and got a large settlement for his long years of service. The management were even offering a plaque for his long years of service and then others in management took it away from him. That's how hostile people can get in groups. It's all about pecking order and envy.

In the end my Dad was able to save enough money to retire and his main NAZI boss was retired but went up on a roof to do some repairs and fell on his back breaking it. All the power he had was gone and he was now a medical dependent. It takes a long time to gain status and self-respect but it at least happened in my Dad's lifetime. I've seen other friends and their family members end their lives ruminating about enemies in their work lives and lamenting the lack of winning at politics and it's so bitter and nasty. 

My prescription is to develop oneself but to let go of results. It's resilence that is the goal. If we make it our goal then we won't give up and we will likely succeed at getting some of our goals completed because we didn't give up. I would also like people to look at intrinsic goals which are much healthier than extrinsic goals. Intrinsic goals have less to do with defeating enemies and more to do with self-development (increasing skills, health, and well being). Extrinsic goals are more about money, fame, and power. We need some of the extrinsic goals but much of that leads to conflict because these goals are outside of ourselves and a large percentage of the population wants money, fame and power.

I remember feeling the wrong end of racism in Japan when I was called a Gaijin by a business guy walking behind me when we went into a restaurant. I was furious but instead of getting irritated more I used what little Japanese and showed respect and bowed and thanked the people there until the business guy left on his own and people warmed up to me much more. It was nice to try some skillfulness and actually find it worked. Smiling more and being self-confident just irritates racists. It means they haven't succeeded in making you feel down.

I have faith in newer generations because they aren't as brainwashed as the older generations were. It's a gradual change but I see many mixed race couples out there who are quite comfortable being in public and lots of people accepting them.

RE: "If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived"
Answer
7/6/15 1:24 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
I've seen racism (especially from older generations) and my father went through some but the root to me is still competition over resources. Racism (which really includes hatred for people of the same race but a different ethnicity) is an aversion to differences. Since habits are addictions and if people cling to them then any encounters with people who have different habits leads to aversion, judgment, and hostility. Then if you add competition to resources then you get scapegoating (which fits into a speech on envy I'm going to present). 
I remember we used to have 2 dogs and dozens of dog bones all over the house, but somehow the 2 dogs would still manage to fight over one particular bone or another, sometimes it was even one that neither of them had touched for eons. There was definitely a hierarchy issue that went beyond resources.  Sure, lack of resources made it worse and more frenzied, but no matter how many resources, they would still squabble over some dumb thing.  They would even fight over things neither normally cared about.  One thing tha tmakes many dogs and humans feel better is to think they are higher in the pecking order, be it because they cook better pie, have a better man cave, have more money, know more famous people, meditate more, are a better Mom, or have a different skin color, humans like to feel they are better than other humans.  Think of any one you know and most likely you can think of the areas they talk about where they think they are better than others.  Skin color is a convenient one for the ego because you can be a total loser in every way but you'll still have your skin color to make you feel better.  So I think one issue that drives racism and othe isms is desire to feel superior and special.         


Another issue I think is anger and frustration.  I think many people have anger and frustration inside them and the easiest way to let it out is to vent it on others.  But to do that, you need an excuse, so you need to think of those people as somehow deserving it, now you can treat them badly and feel self righteous justification at the same time.  Race is one of several common ways to justify the venting of anger and violence on others.

Another one is what Richard talked about, people like to have an excuse for failures and troubles.  Instead of fully owning up to laziness, foolishness, lack of planning, and various other screwups, it's easier on the ego to blame your probs on others, maybe it's political party X, NATO, the president, Mexicans, or whatever, but it makes people feel better to blame probs on others, and again, race is a convenient one for many.  

So racism feeds all 3 of the above desires.   But even if you get the races to mix and integrate more at early ages and racism becomes less common, IMO you'll still have all of the above problems, they'll just manifest in different ways, the races may not specifically target eachother but you will probably have a similar amount of violence, it will just be less organized and predictable.  Like in areas with no whites, there's still tons of black on black violence and in areas with all whites, there's still tons of white on white violence.  The violence does not go away if there is no racism.  Most humans will still find ways to feel superior, vent anger on others, and blame others for their failures, we are very flexible that way.  ;-P
-Eva