Monday, July 25, 2016
Will you play the role of the enlightened witness and save the soul of America?
The soul of a nation can be thought of as made up of the predominant norms and attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices. These norms and attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices can be further thought of as dysfunctional or functional, functional meaning that they enhance the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual functioning of the individuals who participate in that culture.
Once looked at from this perspective, the question can be asked, "does racism enhance the functioning of the members of a culture? The answer based on research is no. Racism has a negative impact on the person with the racist belief as much as it has a negative impact on the target.
The problem is that people with racist attitudes are not aware of how the racism negatively impacts them and others. If they were more aware they would no longer allow racism to influence their thoughts, attitudes, values, and behavior.
The problem of racism evidenced by the building of walls and the demonizing of groups of people is that it corrupts the functional soul of America. It brings suffering on us all and by extension to the whole world.
What is to be done about racism?
It must be identified, acknowledged, and treated to diminish, if not eliminate, its influence on our culture. There are many ways to treat racism once it has been diagnosed. The best way is by the introduction of alternative stories which are positive about the people in the groups being oppressed and subjugated. Empathic understanding comes from getting to know "the other" better which dissolves racist ideas at their core. The understanding that we are all God's children, unconditionally loved is key. This empathic understanding may need to come first from changing people's behavior. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he had no illusions about changing the attitudes of a racist. He was not intending to simply change their attitudes, but he wanted to change their behavior. The civil rights act made many racist practices of segregation illegal. Walling people off is more a symbolic than a practical solution to creating security and safety when people have been influenced to fear "the other."
The spiritually aware can make a huge difference in a culture by being what is called "enlightened witnesses." They are the soothers, the reassures, the ones who manifest compassion and loving kindness.
With whom can you share your witness today?
For more on the role of enlightened witness in society click here.