It’s a season of battles: Political candidates, football teams, actors up for awards; our reality shows are all competitions, people battling to be the best designer, weight-loser, bride, chef, hottie, etc.; the markets are battling; — we reward people, honor them with money and attention, who beat everyone else out – threaded throughout is this theme of competition and winners and losers.
So, of course, Trump has supporters. He is the natural consequence of this perpetuated ideology (hierarchy, capitalism, aggression, patriarchy, hegemony, anthropomorphic dominance, Cartesian dualism, materialism). Our laws gird the system: Developers can buy their way into neighborhoods and destroy communities. People can live in poverty, and we are not responsible.
And, then there is someone like Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks us to consider equality, invites us to passive resistance, challenges us to choose the poor and the weak over the strong and mighty, requires us to check the ethics of our hearts for another way of interacting, thriving, surviving.
So, we honor his memory and dream (and those who enacted, propelled, supported it) with this day of – and let’s face it, many of us like the ideas he talked about but have no idea how to live them out in any sustained, concrete manner. We have no structures for cooperation and consensus. Unless we drop off the grid, we are forced to participate in a deeply competitive system.
That is not to say that pockets of another way of being do not take root. I’m glad that people like Wes Bellamy and Brian Wimer are working to build communities and create solutions that are not top-down but engaging…
All of this rambling philosophizing to say, let’s celebrate MLK Day by, in whatever ways we can, considering ourselves as part of a whole, not as individuals struggling to beat each other out for limited resources. Reconfigure the equation of ourselves in relation to neighbors, coworkers, communities, countries, the earth, prisoners, enemies, crooks, impoverished, elite. Look for ways to shift priorities. Find others who will join you in doing the same. What resources can we share? How can we take responsibility and promote wellbeing for all the kids, not just our own? Who can we invite to dinner? What policies would benefit the whole city, not just our corner, our commute, our goals?
I don’t know the answers. I just know we can’t each change it on our own. We can’t just each sit on a high horse of do-goodedness and check “I’m awesome” off the list. That’s nice that you eat organic. Now make sure that others can afford to, as well. I’m glad you avoid Walmart; now how can you help others afford to avoid that, too? I’m glad you’re not racist; but how often do you hang out with and listen to people of a different color and background? Do you understand your heterosexist privilege?
Charlottesville is awesome. We have so many nonprofits and projects and initiatives aiming to do this hard work! All I know is, it’s not just what we do, or where we donate our money, but how we live and interact with each other that shifts society. And it seems to me, we have an uphill battle – so let’s stop fighting and battling it – let’s use the Force! – because even “fighting” and having hate for those who oppose us engages us in the dialectical relationship.
Listen to MLK, Yoda, Jesus, Lao Tse, the Buddha, Aung San Suu Kyi… learn to love each other as you love yourselves.