Not long ago, I wrote that we are not some divided beings; we don’t have multiple personalities. We have ego and heart. The ego serves a great purpose in letting us know when we are acting very selfishly, which ends up hurting the individual or the other. It’s the aspect of our identity that allows us to know when we are thinking and acting according to heart.
I bring this up because we continue to have racial and other crises of prejudice, bigotry, and hate in America and the rest of the world. Most discussion of it creates an ego response. I will tell you this unapologetically and in perhaps a naive yet sincere simplicity: if we acted from our hearts when engaging with another human being, we would have no problems like this. We will always have some challenges, conflicts, and obstacles, but when we act from the heart, we will be in fellowship over those and act as co-creators of solutions rather than “I’m right, You’re wrong.”
This focuses on two personal experiences. Why personal? Only dealing with one another on a personal level from the heart will ever lead to positive change. No nation or group will ever be ego-free, but a critical mass can be reached that can produce a spirit and atmosphere in which humanity can progress, innovate, create, and shine.
When we interact with others, whatever the issue, we need to realize one thing first and foremost: we are dealing with a fellow member of the human race. No other. I will refer to race in my two stories because I need to in order to make my point.
However, I can tell you when I deal with people, I do it based on who I perceive them to be, not on how I expect their race, culture, or socioeconomic level to act. I think this is why so many of my students felt cared for and accepted in my classroom. Okay, rah for me, but my point is it can be done and I have experienced it most of my adult life. Do I ever react according to ego and stereotype in my thinking or anger. Yes, and I know exactly what it is and deal with myself, not the others. Get it?
Many years ago, I was asked by an African American friend, a true friend, if I would help his brother prepare for the GED. His brother had served a very brief stint in prison, and he was determined to make a life for himself that was positive. Of course I accepted.
However, I didn’t expect that it would occur in their home in an African American community. I remember the first day that I was invited over, a Sunday. From the moment I walked in, we were friends — no phoniness, shams, etc. I was expected to be part of their very large extended family living there, even for that short time, although it was much longer than I anticipated because I was told lunch was ready and that was that. They were delighted that I dug in so heartily. My mom was from deep Southeast Missouri, so I grew up on polk and mustard greens, lima beans, corn bread, and a lot of great food. This went on for a couple months. Amazing — honest hearts.
It made me happy every time I went there. I loved the little kids wanting to show me things and laughing, mom sharing her concerns about some things, grandpa asking me if I was old enough to know about certain events — all things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with being black or white. We just related and I believe we were working through our hearts. We always felt good about the time. In fact, Mark passed his GED, and we continued our friendship for awhile; I even baptized him in my churchy days — (obviously, not too churchy since I was doing the baptizing, but the fact that his family allowed and attended that — in a swimming pool, no less — shows the depth of our relationship).
Flash back a few years. Again, in a very informal church context, about six of us went to a “black” church group — actually, it was a house-type church and the garage was used for meetings — and we held a vacation Bible school. A major component was to just play with the kids. The first night, I had no idea what to expect, but they had a ragged softball and a bat. We played in the alley. One of the kids hit the ball — their only one — into a yard with a big white German shepherd. They were adamant; we couldn’t go in there.
I thought I would just go around the front with the other white kid — we were like twenty — and ask the owner for the ball. Shock. The house was converted on the front side to the “Boogie Shack.” Music. Laughter. Obviously, it was a public establishment. We heard the jukebox and saw the menu over a counter. We walked in. Mistake. Someone reached down and pulled the plug on the jukebox and EVERYONE stared at us.
We walked over to the counter and explained about the ball and the kids, but the lady just glared. I continued and explained it was their only ball. She turned around, walked away, and came back with the ball. Slammed it on the counter.
“If you two white boys ever walk in here again, you won’t walk out. Tell those boys to keep that ball away from this yard.”
I get it. Got it, then. Not white territory. I get the feeling of being the outsider in a threatening way. We had no one to come to our aid, no cell phones then. I experienced hateful, threatening bigotry. Now, it’s not even close to systematized or lifetimes of it, but I get it.
The two experiences stand in stark contrast: one ego, one heart. Individuals dealing with individuals. All hatred, fear, intimidation — God, I don’t even want to list all that negative shit — it’s all ego. Whenever we feel personally affronted and it makes us respond defensively or offensively, it’s ego.
One difference for me is this: Why in the hell does anyone want to feel so badly, hated or hateful, fearful or threatening, or whatever because it all is personally destructive, ultimately? Why, when we can just simply choose to follow our heart and talk to and deal with people as people? If you deal with stupidity or attitude or politics or policy or whatever in a different way depending on skin color, it is ego.
I don’t care about the “issues.” I don’t really care about #matter of any kind. The only #matter I care about is #heartsmatter. Choose the heart — you, individually, no matter what anyone else does. It is the only way to love, peace, stability, decency, dignity, and progress. And maybe you say those aren’t relevant to all that is going on in this nation right now. If you do, you are acting in ego. If at the very least a general loving care for anyone you meet isn’t based on relating to a human being of the same race, then it’s ego. You want ego? Then, you will suffer the consequences of it — and those are ugly and hateful and worthless. You lose.
I want to be able to receive anyone into my home or be received in joy like I experienced with Mark. Never should anyone, anywhere experience what I did at the Boogie Shack.
Remember, hearts matter. Make your choice. It’s on you. I think joy is a good way to go.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!