Posts Tagged ‘racism’

I Can’t Breathe

Breathing is what keeps us alive. Cease to breathe within 5 minutes your brain dies from lack of oxygen. In yoga, breathe in, breathe out, prana goes up and down your charkas with each deep full breath. Put your hands around a person’s wind pipe, cut off their ability to breathe, death ensues.
The chant of George Floyd, his last words, rings out through the canyons of our cities Voices everywhere taking it on as the mantra of 2020. It is an exhaling of frustrations, of anger, of pain. The world is listening, these three small words, they will make a big difference in the days, months, and years to come.
As these words pound through my TV and computer’s speakers I can’t help but think of other meanings they have. Ironic meanings, surreal meanings, that only in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic could such a phrase mean so much in our lives.
At the beginning of the pandemic people were dying because they couldn’t breathe. Lungs were unable to do their jobs. So we learned about ventilators, those miracle machines that breathe for a person. The rallying cry of pandemic ravished states across the nation became “we need ventilators so that the sick can breathe”.
Three plus months into the pandemic the cases and death rates have fallen. But we can’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. It’s not over until either a miracle from God or a vaccine arrives. So we do social distancing and wear our protective masks and stay home as much as possible.
Masks…we are ordered to wear them when in public or entering a place of business. Yes, they are what protects us from spreading the virus to others. But for some of us, it’s like someone holding a hand over your mouth and nose and you just can’t breathe! I have asthma and it doesn’t matter what the mask is made out of, after 15 minutes I start choking for lack of fresh air.
Also all this “sheltering in place”, this extended isolation smothered us psychologically. Connecting with fellow humans in real time, touching one another, denial of this human necessity is akin to wrapping a person in a plastic bag (a body bag for a dead soul?). It’s denying the social breath of being human! From those months of holding one’s breath as to when things will return to normal came the great exhaling when Floyd was murdered. Why do you think thousands of people stopped being afraid of the virus and rushed into the streets? The social necessity of standing up for what was right, outweighed the chance of being infected. Social injustice was not going to smother us any more…
So what’s in the meaning of these words? Let’s examine each one: I…not just me but the larger I of all of us together…Can’t…stating it’s impossible, unable to do, an impediment sits in front of movement…Breathe…in and out, inhale life giving oxygen, we all do it, every creature on this planet does it. We now must join spiritual hands and breathe together, pray that the ’t will vanish and the WE come out of this horrible time alive…WE CAN BREATHE again. We Can change the world.

Joy, happiness, merriment, celebration, we are deep in a season where positive upbeat words permeate our songs, greetings, and commercials. So what is wrong with this picture? A virus of evil has infected us. Racism, intolerance and nastiness, aka adult bullying, has become a daily occurrence.

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s day, Christians, Jews, and African Americans will be celebrating a season of light amidst the darkness of Winter. Yes, even non-believers and atheists join in celebrating the good in people, the joy in a world all a sparkle.

When towns light their holiday trees, the only word to describe it is joyous – just look into the children’s faces as they anticipate meeting Santa! But elsewhere, in those same towns, dark words fly from the mouths of dark souls. Their hearts have been corrupted not by a President-elect’s words but by their own need to destroy what is good in human relations. Every woman in a hajib is a terrorist, every African American is dangerous, every Hispanic is illegal, and every police officer is out to get you. Toxic words turn to toxic actions and snuff out the candles of light.

So we must sing the songs of goodness louder, we must open dialogue with those different from us, if we believe in God we must pray for tolerance to reign. Our actions during this season must move us into that space where the greatest gift we can give another human being is love. Yes, the word that matters the most, not just in December but all year long.