|Rama Jyoti Vernon||
My husband handed me the Dallas Newspaper. Huge black letters spelled out, “We’re Hurting.”
Yes, I thought. We are hurting. My husband and I live in a small city in the backyard of Dallas where a mournful pall hangs over the region.
The day before, I watched thousands of men, women and children of every race, religion and walk of life, stride peacefully through U.S. city streets. They were walking to protest the injustice of the latest shootings of two black men at the hands of white policemen. It was my hope that they were also walking for the injustice and violence everywhere.
Some walked in silence casting their eyes downward in prayer, and others looked up to the sky stretching their arms as if inviting the heavens to the earth. Other marchers reached out in a united effort of peace, to link arms with strangers as if remembering that we are all brothers and sisters of the one humanity.
There is something almost reverential happening here. People in cities throughout our country were coming together, not just through social media, but as if guided by powers beyond human comprehension. I held the marchers in the light of protection, praying that outside influences would not interfere with what was becoming a demonstration of human unity.
In this united effort of peace, justice and change it seemed profound, as if another invisible energy was walking with the mothers pushing baby carriages, fathers carrying young children on their shoulders, teens marching with parents. Youth and elders strode forwarded united in their desire to end years of injustice and violence. Mexican families marched with heads held high in the inspiration of the moment in hopes for justice and human unity.
A Muslim child fell on the sidewalk and began to cry. Her mother in black robe and hair covered by a white hijab thanked the marchers who gathered around in caring and concern. My thoughts drifted to the fear tactics around Muslims, and what many call “radical Muslim extremists,” but at this moment, there was only caring and compassion.
Suddenly, I watched as repeated gunfire rang out and someone yelled, “Run!” Mayhem ensued with people screaming and running in every direction, not knowing the source of the gunfire. As people were running away, the police were running toward the origin of the gunfire, trying to protect the people in their path.
Race and culture, law and order, and guns seem to be colliding as integration and change struggled to bridge longtime chasms of separation. Live broadcasters grasped for information as tolls of death and the wounded kept rising.
I could not sleep that night but kept vigil as events unfolded, lighting candles, praying and meditating until dawn. Whether we were there physically or not, the events unfolding in our country are impacting us all. I hold all parties, all beings, victims and perpetrators in the periphery of my consciousness. I pray for the highest and best for all in the situation. As horrible as it appears, it is heartening to see the immense movement for long awaited change. Now, people are empowering themselves. Participants say in current protests, the police are invoking violence and arresting people while others say the police are helping and hugging protesters. This is one more example of not painting all faces and all groups with the one brush that deepens existing gulfs of separation.
The Dallas Police Chief who happens to be black, spoke of his own experiences, “I love Dallas and serving here.” He urged the people not to be part of the problem, “Be part of the solution. It is a time not for escalation of conflict, but a time to de-escalate.”
Right now, there is palpable support for all peoples in this region as a week of memorials and funerals begins. A Dallas county official said, “Police officers are grieving. The people of all colors here are grieving. The community is diverse but there is growing respect for one another as we share in our collective grief. This is an incredible opportunity to bring us closer rather than be pulled further apart.”
The news anchor asked, “What does Dallas need?” The police commissioner didn’t skip a beat, “We need patience. We need this to mean something to this community and to this country. We need this to mean something to both white and black families. They need to feel our support for them. We need compassion and to become part of the solutions. We can’t let the politicians and the talking heads pull us back into our small corners of misunderstanding.”
I felt an amazing spiritual undertow that is bringing up issues that have long been hidden and buried for way to long. The practice of Yoga is meant to bring up embedded impressions in our cellular psyche for healing and transformation. Just as this is done individually, it also happens collectively in communities and nations. What is happening in our outer world is impacting us all, whether we know it or not.
Today, the Dallas newspaper’s front page has a picture of a huge eye with a giant tear welling up and dropping from the lower lid. “This city, our city, has been tested before,” an editorial said. “Now we face a new test.” It has been over fifty years since President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, but the article printed under the tear said that city is still impacted by that event. It seems as if the latest shooting in Dallas is bringing up the city’s past, unhealed wounds.
There is so much pain and unhappiness existing in our world today, and the question is, can we still find our center of joy and contentment in the midst of loss; loss of feeling safe, loss of trust in our leaders and politicians, loss of stability and security? The question now is, can we stay centered in the midst of change? As the Buddhist would say, Anicha, Anicha…changing, changing. A teacher from India once said, “Change is inevitable. Can we bathe in the same waters of the Ganges twice?” Years ago, when I tried to swim in the swift waters of the Ganges near its source, I wondered, if it was possible to bathe in the same waters even once?
When we feel powerless in witnessing the rapid changes happening in the world around us and wonder what we can do to make a difference, it is important to dive deeper within the Self. Ask the Universe how you may serve. You may be surprised at the answer. Some are meant to work for change in the outer world and others may be called within to hold our country and our world in the light of expanded consciousness for the highest and best for all.
Whenever I feel I’m not doing enough, I remember the words of Mother Teresa,
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”