Black History Month and the need for Reconciliation

I find it odd and peculiar to even talk about people as if they were so different as to be separate from them. I find it more even and familiar to think of you as me and me as you. True unity, sisterhood, brotherhood; real family. We are all one.

Having said that, there are still very many people in the world that divide us up and as such are inclined to force us to separate, in a word conquer. It takes a divided mind to divide the world. We are all one giant dysfunctional family and it’s time to reconcile. Like the alien life form Stitch said to his superior (if you have children you might know who i’m talking about), “They are broken but still good.”

Black History month is every February. It gives us a chance to learn about a painful part of our history. This month I learned about Casius Clay, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm Little and Malcolm X.

The movie ‘We Were Once Kings’ is a misleading title to one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. I will say nothing more about it in hopes of having you curious enough to see it. Ok I will say one thing; if you love freedom, life, faith, hope, confidence, courage, love, laughing, athletic genius and miraculous magic in its purity, and maybe even a little bit of the funk and soul, then allow yourself the pleasure of television this one time. This movie can be shared with younger minds as well.

To put this movie into context it might be best to watch ‘Malcolm X’ first. It will also help to disinfect a painful wound of our past that the amazing director Spike Lee will purposefully open. I am only starting to learn about these tragic moments in our history so I will not go much further here.

Where I would like to go is to a Vietnamese man that Martin Luther King nominated for the Nobel prize. They met during the Vietnam war tragedy. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk if he has to be burdened with any divisive labels. Of course he (and the above mentioned heroes of our time) is (and are) much more than any labeling system and in this light we are all Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, atheists, scientists and any other ist you wish to divide this world into.

If one must divide this world into anything, then start and end with the words love and compassion. In this light and this light only were these heroes of our time religious, saintly, god-like and worth aspiring to become. It is certainly time to drink more from this well-spring of love and compassion. Can I get an amen!? Can I get a hallelujah!? (he says smilingly)

In the spirit of learning about our painful past and reconciling it into a healing and happy/joyful present moment please take a moment to read this powerful passage. It will change the way to take your next step.

“When you walk, for whom do you walk? You can walk as a kind of meditative offering. It’s very nice to walk for your parents or for your grandparents who may not have known the practice of walking in mindfulness. Your ancestors may have spent their whole life without the chance to make peaceful, happy steps and establish themselves fully in the present moment. This is a great pity, but we do not need to repeat this situation.

All our ancestors and all future generations are present in us. Liberation is not an individual matter. As long as the ancestors in us are still suffering, we cannot be happy, and we will transmit that suffering to our children and their children.

Now is the time to liberate our ancestors and future generations: to free ourselves. If we can take one step freely and happily, touching the Earth mindfully, we can take one hundred. We do it for ourselves and for all previous and future generations. We all arrive at the same time and find peace and happiness together!

When you make a step, you may visualize that your mother is taking that step with you. This is not something difficult because you know that your feet are a continuation of the feet of your mother. As we practice looking deeply, we see the presence of our mother in every cell of our body. Our body is also a continuation of our mother’s body. When you make a step, you may say, “Mother, walk with me.” And suddenly you feel your mother in you walking with you. You may notice that during her lifetime she did not have much chance to walk in the here and the now and to enjoy touching the Earth like you. So suddenly compassion, love is born. And that is because you can see your mother walking with you – not as something imagined but as a reality.

You can invite your father to walk with you. You may like to invite the people you love to walk with you in the here and the now. You can invite them and walk with them without the need for them to be physically present.

We continue our ancestors, our ancestors are fully present in every cell of our body. When we take a peaceful step we know that all of our ancestors are taking that step with us. Millions of feet are making the same movement. With video techniques you can create that kind of image. Thousands of feet are making a step together. And of course your mind can do that. Your mind can see thousands and millions of your ancestor’s feet are making a step together with you. That practice, using visualization, will shatter the idea, the feeling, that you are a separate self. You walk, and yet they walk.

It is possible for you to walk with the feet of your mother. Poor mother, she didn’t have much opportunity to walk like this. You can say, “Mother, would you like to walk with me?” And then you walk with her, and your heart will fill with love. You free yourself and you free her at the same time, because it’s true that your mother is in you, in every cell of your body.

Your father is also fully present in every cell of your body. You can say, “Dad, would you like to join me?” Then suddenly you walk with the feet of your

Father. It’s a joy. It’s very rewarding. And I assure you that it’s not difficult. You don’t have to fight and struggle in order to do it. Just become aware, and everything will go well.

You may also like to sit for your mother. Many mothers don’t get many opportunities to sit down and do nothing. This is important work! You can sit and just breathe mindfully, and this will be something yo can do for your mother, whether she has passed on or is still with you, whether she is far away or near.

After you have been able to walk for your dear ones, you can walk for the people who have made your life miserable. You can walk for those who have attacked you, who have destroyed your home, your country, and your people. These people weren’t happy. They didn’t have enough love for themselves and for other people. They have made your life miserable and the life of your family and your people miserable. And there will be a time when you’ll be able to walk for them too. Walking like that, you become a Buddha, you become a bodhisattva filled with love, understanding, and compassion.”

From ‘A Rose for your Pocket’ by Thich Nhat Hanh, Ch. 5, Ceremonies for Reconciliation and Appreciation: Walking with your parent’s feet.

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2 comments on “Black History Month and the need for Reconciliation
  1. Bob says:

    Well said Mike, you’ll always be the little bro I never had! Always thoughtful, always caring, you are a greeat man.

    • Thanks Bob. It takes one to know one! It feels good being a father and a husband and striving for greatness doesn’t it? I like reading about your children’s accomplishments. If your family is ever in south central BC you have a home away from home here with us. The Okanagan is a fun playground in the summer. Good bye for now.

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