I am not religious. At all. I’m not even sure if I believe in God, but that’s for another day. Needless to say, I am not an avid prayer. I did grow up in a house of house of addiction and the serenity prayer was said, a lot. I will admit that when I need a centering, there isn’t much better than those 26 words.
The line that always sticks out to me above is THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN. I go on ad nauseum about being accountable and honest and the like and even espouse for people to, “Control your Controllables.” This is like the prayer version of harden the fuck up and do what needs doing.
Currently in this nation, and more specifically in my home city, shit is going fucking sideways and I don’t have the slightest clue as to what I should personally do about it.
I am not going to get into the ins and outs of the shooting of Alton Sterling here. The man was killed and the man who killed him likely had a split second he wishes dearly to have back. It is tragic in every way.
Thursday morning, I went and ran. The city was eerily quiet. Like people decided not to drive to work or something. I set out running, trying to suck in oxygen through the wet rag of humidity that is a Baton Rouge, July and somewhere around mile 2 I had an overall realization that there is nothing in this nation less equal than being a black male. Black female comes in close second.
Many of you probably read that and go, “Yeah, no shit 45 year old white guy. Tell us some more of your profound realizations.” This isn’t the first time I’ve thought this, but now I am taking an active “putting yourself in their shoes” approach. What would I do? How would I feel? Can I do anything about it.
As a runner, I say hello to everyone on the road. This morning, saying hello to the African Americans I ran into seemed hollow, like saying “Hey, I have tons of black friends.” or “See, I’m cool, I said hello to those black guys.”
The web of how we got here is so tangled that I don’t know what string to pull to start making it right, and don’t know that it ever can be “right”, but we all have a duty to try and do something. To treat people with respect, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, to do our best to undo the web of racial and social bias this nation finds itself in. We are all guilty, white on black, black on white, rich on poor, poor on rich and everything in between.
The following won’t undo it, or change it at once, but neither will carrying on with life like nothing is happening.
THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN
Be honest about the stereotypes I harbor, conciously or otherwise
Give pause when I find myself forming a judgement on no basis other than those stereotypes
Ask why I drew this conclusion
Give benefit of doubt-real or imaginary
Don’t let those biases affect decision making
Do what I can to live right by others
If you pray, pray.
If you don’t, make change.
If neither of those work, then at the least try and have the
WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.