We are stuck, been stuck and will remain stuck if we don’t reframe the challenge and embrace a new perspective. I offer one that is as old as it is new.
How is a parent able to forgive the murderer of their child? How could the Tutsis or Hutus in Rwanda reconcile with the perpetrators who maimed or slaughtered their family? Where does the capacity come from to act so nobly? I will answer it this way. Our daughter passed away unexpectedly at age 19. Though emotionally devastating, it was spirituality that, over time, allowed us to put this wrenching loss into perspective and to subsequently grow from and through the pain.
Spirituality, as distinct from a particular religion, is the mettle that has long been drawn upon to transform horrific pain into the strength to move forward. It is a capacity, beyond emotional strength. It is a transcending power and energy that lifts bonds and heals. It is also a profound depth of consciousness that recognizes the interconnectedness of all human beings and resonates to the deeper meanings of life.
That said, I believe spirituality is an essential ingredient in bridging the Black/White racial divide. (Black/White because this is the race challenge which I am most familiar). Before dismissing this premise as naïve or implausible, consider the emotional quagmire and boxing match Blacks and Whites seem unable to extract themselves from. Consider the depth of anguish and anger issues of race continue to provoke and ask yourself if a different vantage point isn’t needed from which to operate.
When tapped, spiritual energy evokes the necessary courage to face the pain and anger surrounding issues of race. It can transform them into a strength of spirit that creates a climate and foundation for healing. King tapped this energy as did Mandela. We feel it. We resonate with it. We admire it in others but often fail to choose it for ourselves. It is not weak, impractical or superfluous; it is a real force for change.
Science is drawing the same conclusions. Research demonstrates that thoughts and behaviors long associated with spirituality have practical ramifications for solving social problems. According to prominent scientist Dr. David Hawkins, one person operating from a consciousness of love and harmony can counterbalance the negativity of 750,000 individuals. Based on his research, he concluded, the British Empire didn’t stand a chance against Ghandi. Additionally, he as well others have determined that love energy vibrates at a higher frequency than hate or fear energy. Empirically speaking then, love does conquer hate. Renowned and controversial Dr.Masaru Emoto, for over 30 years, has studied the impact of negative and positive energy on water which comprises 60 percent to 70 percent of our body. He has repeatedly demonstrated that both energies literally change its molecular structure. When frozen and photographed, the water crystals, previously exposed to negative energy or words such as hate, have a grossly deformed quality. Those exposed to positive energy, emanating from such words as love and gratitude, radiate with beauty.
So what is the relevance for Blacks and Whites? Training ourselves to tap our spiritual or higher self will lead to more reflection about our thoughts, feelings and behaviors and their impact. It will alter unhealthy reactionary responses to actions we consider racist or to being labeled racist. Higher self responses can be selected based on a deeper awareness of the interconnectedness of humanity and the necessity of maintaining a level of unity and love.
Based on that consciousness, choices will be grounded in altruism, rather than fear, anger or antagonism. Again, the starting point is conscientious self reflection. Next is not just the desire to right a wrong, but also to make our “enemies” our friends. The ending point can include many things. A situation can be confronted authentically with grace. Forgiveness may be appropriate. A choice can be made to work for legislation that will change a policy. Another choice may be to continuously scrutinize one’s own conduct for evidences of prejudice. The motive for action is what makes the difference in the ultimate outcome.
Remember, the British Empire didn’t stand a chance against Ghandi as darkness is helpless against light. A candle in a room dissipates the darkness. As it burns brighter, the darkness disappears altogether. The more committed to a “higher self” approach the less wrongs will be perpetrated and the healthier will be the responses when they are committed. This is not an easy approach or a one and done proposition. Grounded in faith (spirituality) and reason (science) it requires courageous moment by moment renewal. I personally can attest to that. I invite you to join me in starting a spiritual movement toward racial unity and racial justice.
Tod Ewing is the author of "Seeing Heaven in the Face of Black Men."