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Racism, Ancient Wisdom, Society and Homework
By Ardena Joy Clark
Published October 16, 2017

Ardena Joy Clark (File Photo)

Why We Must All Become Amazing Lovers

Once Upon A Time…

Long ago, Buddha and his followers were resting underneath a tree when suddenly a man came and spat in Buddha’s face. His followers grew outraged but Buddha wasn’t angry or offended and calmly said to the man, “What next? There must be something you mean to say.” Everyone grew silent. Buddha continued, “This man does not know me and therefore has not offended me. He must have formed some ill notion of me, heard some rumors so this man has not spit on me. He has spit on his notion of me. He has spit on his own mind.” Buddha then turned to the man and lovingly asked him,”What more do you wish to say?” The man, shocked, confused and amazed ran home. That night he found it was impossible to sleep. He could not explain this encounter and was haunted by it, trembling and sweating all through the night. He had never come across such a man and this experience shattered his previous way of being. This encounter shook him to his core. The next morning the man returned and threw himself at Buddha’s feet, asking for forgiveness. Buddha, lifting his body lovingly replied, “The Ganges goes on flowing and is never the same again. Every man is a river. Much has happened this past Twenty-four hours and the man that you spat on is no longer here, I just look like him. You have also changed. You are new and I am new. These two people, the man who spat and the one who was spit on are no more. Come, friend. Let us talk of something else.”

I had a bit of a rough road as a child, was exposed to many unpleasant things and upon hearing stories like this one as well as being introduced to many other of the great teachers of love, I’ve been striving to develop a love so powerful that it too was able to drive out hate. Though my understanding of what is required to accomplish that task has changed, greatly, the mission has not. Well, I’ve been at it for decades now and quite honestly I’ve made some progress. I’m pretty decent at loving when things aren’t too challenging. Even when handling a direct assault from people I’m okay. I have developed an ability to look for the root of the person’s problem and try and address that. I do well, realizing, as the Buddha discussed, the problem was something in their own mind. However, there are times, this doesn’t happen often but there are also times when people that are close to me, can really get under my skin. Suddenly my ego completely takes over and I lose my grip on love. Well it’s less like I lose my grip and more like let love go as I launch it as a weapon directly at the head of the person I’m conflict with. I find myself watching as from outside of my body behaving in ways that I’m ashamed of and though I want to stop, even in that moment, I’m unable still to check my anger. An anger which I believe to be rooted in fear. The fear of not being loved which I believe we all face from time to time.

What I’m finding is that to truly love, unselfishly is the most courageous thing anyone can do. To love is to be truly brave.

Today, as we survey the political and cultural landscape with our mind’s eye, we can see that there is a lot happening. A great deal of hate being spewed with words and committed with deeds. The atmosphere is tense and there are many questions. Will we ever solve society’s problems? What happened to the organized leadership? Will it take a movement like it has in the past or will some new more effective form of protest emerge? Is there something I can do to effect change? I don’t know but regarding the last question, I do believe that there is something that each one of us can to usher in change.

I believe that we are all capable of developing a love that has the power to drive out hate and to transform hearts. I have no idea what’s going to happen to our society as a whole. I haven’t the slightest clue what form of resistance will come next or what institutions many emerge. Currently there is a lot of attention being called to injustice and hate and It’s beautiful. I proud of and happy about that though we have no idea what will come from it yet. What I do believe is that as we continue to move forward with creativity  and as we fight for justice, love must be our strategy, weaponry, map, and commander. Love, I believe must be the foundation that we build upon.

May I Ask You A Personal Question?

How are you loving the people in your life? For example, are we supportive of our friends and there when they need us or do we only use them when it’s convenient to temporarily distract us from our lives? Are we truly challenging our friends to be great and encouraging their growth or ultimately hurting each other by forming little “vice clubs” where we can be petty, and self destructive but not alone? What about at work? Are we gossiping behind our coworkers back and spreading rumors to feel better about ourselves by getting a few laughs because we can’t seem to find another way to feel loved and accepted? Husbands, are we honoring our wives and showing gratitude and respect for all that they give and listening to their concerns or are we taking them for granted? Are we cooperating in creating a happy and healthy environment at home and taking pride in that? Wives, are we respectful and kind to our husbands. Do we try to understand his frustrations when he’s feeling pressured or do we begin to tear him down? Are we so afraid of getting hurt or not being loved that it’s causing us to keep a distance and preventing real intimacy from taking place? Are we adults doing all that we can for the elders in our lives and making their remaining days as comfortable as possible? Parents, are we protecting our children, body and soul? Are we setting a good example that will give them the tools to gracefully grow with dignity and confidence in this world?

These, I believe are the things that deserve our attention first and foremost. Wnning these battles will give us an advantage in this cultural war. Of course we can and we should demand that our society is just and that the rights granted by natural law are accessible to each of us but we’d be hypocrites to do so while not aspiring to behave justly and fairly to those in our own lives. We often make allowences under the banner of “I’m just human” for loosing our tempers, mistreating and hurting people and of course that will happen from time to time but what if we all started holding ourselves to a higher standard. Were not the great teachers of love also human? Ironically, I believe that it is our humanity that grants us this amazing ability to love on the highest level. I believe that with this approach we will begin developing the transformative type of love discussed in the parable above and that is taught in so many beautiful ways by various people of varying beliefs all throughout history and around the world.

Homework

Who in your life is the most difficult for you to love? Identify that person (those people) and start there. Challenge yourself to love them to the best of your ability. Challenge yourself to have the discipline of self control despite what their actions may be and to keep your integrity and love in place. Remind yourself that hate whether systemic or fleeting is just a mask for fear and show the hater that there is nothing to fear as you stand before them, openly, without a guard up and fearlessly. I believe that if we can do that, we can transform hearts and change this world.

Categories: Ardena Clark | Op-Ed | Opinion
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