By Helene de Boissiere – Swanson
This morning, I woke to the television blaring and barraging viewers with messages promoting fear in the wake of this week’s violent aftermath of police officers killing black men in the South and in the North and a person who felt their only course of action was retaliation towards white people. A nation known for its great military power, a country whose power and wealth lies in the disturbing fact that women and slaves were never included in the constitution was gripped in the rhetoric of “The Long Hot Summer of 1967”.
Having attended the 2008 Lambeth Conference, where I was inspired by the Rev. Canon Professor Dr. Richard Burridge, Dean of Kings College, who spoke on the topic of Human Sexuality and the Witness of Scripture which delineated how interpretation of scripture from the Holy Bible lead to apartheid in Africa and slavery in the United States, I drew my own conclusions, that in order to bring world peace that the United States of America, which is a post-colonial slave based economy turned prison industrial complex of one of the world largest military powers, that the first step that the USA had to take was to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. That just as Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Black legal scholar whose insightful 1989 essay, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”, that the intersectionality of racism and sexism and the systemic issues that they are the root thereof, would be addressed by this simple addition to our constitution.
However, the news coverage was no different then it has been for many years, and I was disheartened as I am sure many were this morning. For the most part our two major political parties were busy positioning themselves to demonstrate how they were the party of change and why their nominee would be the best one to hold the esteemed office of President of the United States of America. Each taking snipes at the integrity of the other. Some spoke of racism while reinforcing our broken modalities of addressing the symptoms but not the causation, and others took pride that only they had the right answers. Of the many approaches offered not once did I hear of anyone speaking to the fact we still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment in our US Constitution.
My thoughts of the ‘monkey minded” news coverage bounced from one thought to another and rather than hope was filled with anxiety and how each television show failed in calming a distraught nation but instilled more fear. I thought, “I must clear my ‘monkey mind’. It is time to mediate. It is time to pray.” I turned off the boob tube. I played meditational music calling upon a higher power, a power greater than I, a consciousness in which we all exist. Mere moments later of river of tears flooded my soul and I was cleansed and renewed to face the challenges that lay ahead. I turned my thoughts to great spiritual leaders of ages past and whose shoulders we all stand on.
Searching for words of wisdom I thought of the inspiration of my walk across the USA for the Equal Rights Amendment – – Gandhiji and his discourse “On Civil Disobedience,” given on July 27, 1916, in which he said “There are two ways of countering injustice. One way is to smash the head of the man who perpetrates injustice and to get your own head smashed in the process. All strong people in the world adopt this course. Everywhere wars are fought and millions of people are killed. The consequence is not the progress of a nation but its decline. Soldiers returning from the front have become so bereft of reason that they indulge in various anti-social activities. One does not have to go far for examples. Pride makes a victorious nation bad-tempered. It falls into luxurious ways of living. Then for a time, it may be conceded, peace prevails. But after a short while, it comes more and more to be realized that the seeds of war have not been destroyed but have become a thousand times more nourished and mighty. No country has ever become, or will ever become, happy through victory in war. A nation does not rise that way, it only falls further. In fact, what comes to it is defeat, not victory. And if, perchance, either our act or our purpose was ill-conceived, it brings disaster to both belligerents.”
Wondering what I should do in light of affect these profound prophetic words had on my being, I thought back to the purpose for which Katrina’s Dream was founded and invigorated by those great leaders who have gone before us, Michael King Jr. (Martin Luther King Jr.), Mohandas Karachand Gandhi (Gandhiji), Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim (Muhammad), Isā ibn Maryam (Jesus the Nazarene), and Kongqiu (Confusius). No longer embracing fearful driven thoughts but knowing that I am an instrument of change, just as we all are instruments of change. I set to the task of writing this letter to you my simple request.
I ask that you take a few moments today and the days ahead… to pray… to meditate… not just for this country but also for our world. That you pray that all people no matter their faith, race, class, caste, color or geographical location unite in a common causes that will lead to prosperity and true wealth.
In particular I ask non-believers and believers alike to look to the cosmos and prayer to the God of their understanding and send positive energy in the direction of those whom will be speaking and attending the Rally4Rights in St. Louis to raise awareness for the “Three State Strategy” to promote the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment from the Archway at the Jefferson Expansion National Memorial to move our nation towards peace and goodwill and that this energy ripples forward crescendoing on shores of ‘Love Co-Existence’ and multiplicity.