Monday is MLK day and with it will come the monsoon of MLK quotes. I’ll start:
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Great, right? We quote him every year on this sacred day but do we live by his words? Who among us has kept quiet in order to “keep the peace,” to not “ruffle feathers,” to “keep the calm” in the midst of a political storm. Many people I’ve heard from in the yoga community are saying that the tenets of yoga compel us to remain the strong steady force of peace and harmony. That our role is to remain neutral in a down pouring of opinions.
Ironically, MLK was strongly influenced by Gandhi who deeply studied yogic texts (including the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita) to create and blast out his ideas around non-violence. MLK was following yogic principles when he spoke LOUD AND PROUD (as his life’s mission in fact) about the political, social and economic issues of his (our) time.
As I think about these yogic principles, about MLK, I have to ask myself: Have I remained silent in this cyclone of activity?
A little tidbit of info about me. I have 5 brothers and sisters. All combinations of half, step, and full on siblings create what we call family. In the middle of that tornado of kids is me, the infamous middle child. Forever the peace maker, the people pleaser. I carried those traits with me into adulthood. My need to keep people happy has kept me quiet, too many times.
SO! What is my truth? What have I noticed about everything happening in our political landscape (or perhaps landslide would be a better term)?
I noticed that there was much more police presence when the Black Lives Matter protests were happening. And much more armor.
I noticed that the president told his supporters that he was going to “walk with” them and then he didn’t. I noticed how he stoked the fire and then sent others to burn. I noticed that I hated him for it and I hoped my children would never feel the shame of following someone who lead them astray.
I noticed holding my breath as I watched a black police officer get chased by a group of white men. He never drew his gun. It made me wonder why. It made me mad and glad and scared for him. (I know now that SO MANY people owe their lives to this valiant officer-Eugene Goodman).
I noticed that the same people who claimed “Blue Lives Matter” got into fist fights with police. What they did to one officer ended in his death. The deep sorrow and anger I felt in watching that, well, I can’t put it into words.
I noticed the president call those same people “special” and told them he loved them.
I noticed terror in the eyes of the people held up in that building, not knowing what was going on outside and what their fate would be. I cried for them and their families. What nightmares were they imagining? What nightmares were they living?
I noticed a text from my dear friend who said, “It’s just like 9-11. I can’t stop watching” and I recognized our shared trauma simply seeing it all unfold. I watched my children and wondered if I should shield their eyes or open them.
I noticed that those same terrorized congresspeople somehow walked back into those halls and finished the job because they believe so strongly in democracy. I felt proud.
I noticed that I felt a deep sense of anger towards the people attacking our nation, that they were simply animals out of control.
I noticed, once I had time to process, that they are humans too. Humans who acted violently and should be held accountable but still part of our shared humanity.
I noticed that people lost their lives that day. One protecting their country, one fighting for their beliefs. Two many.
I noticed people stepping back and saying that their is still good in the world. Because there is.
I noticed people in the yoga community say that yoga is about unity and therefore we mustn’t take sides or get absorbed in what is going on.
I noticed people in the yoga community also getting vocal about their support of Qanon and other conspiracy theories.
I noticed that (like with so many other texts) people are using the yoga philosophy to support their viewpoint and SO.AM.I. (Are you?) I feel my viewpoint is about love not hate. I bet they probably think that too.
I noticed that as we become more divided things only get worse.
I noticed the need for shared understanding and shared humanity.
I noticed the need for holding people accountable.
I noticed a bully when I saw one.
I noticed hate.
I noticed love.
Are my observations tainted by my beliefs, my values, my upbringing, the color of my skin? Of course they are. Let’s call a spade a spade. But that’s my truth. We have to break the silence as MLK would ask us to do if he was here today. We honor him not by posting a whirlwind of his words but by living them.
Thank you for reading, for supporting me, for listening.
Stay safe, happy and healthy, Lora
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between. Shout out to Tiffany Stewart for help with the writing.