Sunday, July 26, 2015


I hate to admit it, but when I first heard, "Black lives matter," I thought to myself, "ALL lives matter." Apparently, that is not an uncommon reaction from other white people.

What I did not realize was that by thinking what I did, I was mitigating the importance of the statement that BLACK lives matter. All I would have had to consider was a scenario in which I was talking about how those dealing with cancer matter, only to have someone say something about how everyone sick matters. 

Of course, everyone, in every regard, does matter. But that is not the point. The point is how can we express the fact that there is a need to point to something that needs attention in a way that people can hear it? Saying one set of people need something does not inherently deny the need of others. 

And yet, it is responded to in such a way that those who interpret the statement do it in some way that does not see the other person's minimalization, but rather feels it minimalizing about themselves, and in turn makes a statement marginalizing the minimized even more. But they do it in such a way they don't even realize they are doing it. Even worse, it could even sound "good." Who could argue with inclusion? Right?

When I write about stuff, I am all too acutely aware of my imperfections. The problem is, I am aware of the fact that I am not "perfect" in ways I am not even aware of. I always wonder if those moments of "imperfection" will come back to bite me in the butt.

While I do not feel good sharing about this, I am grateful that I did not ever make some pronouncement that "all lives matter" publicaly prior to this. Prior to this, it would have been said with a huge blind spot.

There may be some who will read my words and think how could I possibly compare cancer to something like what "black lives matter" means. To you I will say, there might be some way I could indeed do that metaphorically, but the fact is I am not doing it, nor am I trying to. 

What I am doing, though, is talking about human behavior. Humans do not always see what is right in front of them. Sometimes they need another to point out something you might think was even obvious. Given all of the times I have talked about things like this in regard to where I am, I did not even remotely pick up on where I had gone astray by myself. It took listening to others to see what should have been an "of course." And it became that "of course" when I could overlay the template of reaction on to my own experience. My sharing comes from an expansion of awareness that comes from this place.

Sometimes we have incredible blinders when it comes to stuff. It may not seem to fit because it isn't the same thing, but if we can remove the "template," we might just be able to see how it does. At the same time, I suspect that template could also in some way be used to minimalized and marginalize others, too, if we are not careful.

Pointing to one thing as important isn't saying other things are not. If we can find a way to remember that fact, perhaps we won't be so quick to say, "me, too!" when another voices their distress. Perhaps if we could remember to think more of others, when something is said we can try to understand better where that person is coming from, rather than thinking about how it affects and applies to us, and how we might feel offended, or need to defend ourselves. Instead of feeling put down in some way, maybe we could try to find a way to lift the other. At the very least, maybe we could be loving and aware enough to acknowledge and validate what another is going through, even when we have no personal experience or understanding of it. After all, we are not them. Plus, there are times we will desperately want and need that for ourselves.

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