“I pray that all beings reveal their True unassailable nature. May I reveal my unassailable nature in the face of adversity.
I said this prayer after contemplating an interview I did with our friend Gino Walker in church last Sunday.
Gino is an amazing woman. She’s a talented singer, speaker, and teacher. She has a YouTube channel called Pass the Mic. She is a daredevil. She bungee jumps and parachute leaps for fun. I experienced the terror of hot air ballooning with her. She lurched around the basket, while I sang “Up, Up, and Away” through clenched teeth.
Even with her bold power, Gino has been the recipient of racism. She spoke with us about it on Sunday.
“A man threw a bottle at me and called me the N-word.” “My mother taught me not to touch anything in stores because people might think I’m stealing.” “A white shopkeeper ran out of his store and yelled ‘stop.’ It wasn’t even about me. Some other guy had left his wallet. But I automatically froze and raised my hands up over my head.”
This in America, in our lifetime. Racism, intolerance, assault, and disdain for the perceived other.
Earlier in the service before I introduced Gino, I read a poem called “To Create an Enemy,” by Sam Keen:
Start with an empty canvas
Sketch in broad outline the forms of men, women, and children.
Dip into the unconscious well of your own disowned darkness with a wide brush and stain the strangers with the sinister hue of the shadow.
Trace onto the face of the enemy the greed, hatred, carelessness you dare not claim as your own.
Obscure the sweet individuality of each face.
Erase all hints of myriad loves, hope, fears that play through the kaleidoscope of every finite heart…. (for the full poem, click here)
People project their fear, shame, and shadow onto the other and then live like that falsehood is true….
What do we do about it?
Many good people are outraged by racism and other assaults. Outrage makes perfect sense. But what if we’re not supposed to do what makes sense? I’m not sure that we can transform from a platform of outrage. We’ve tried it. It doesn’t seem effective. Outrage creates more outrage. Outrage creates more to be outraged about. Outrage is a greedy beast that is never satisfied. And because outrage is focused on changing the “other” it may actually disempower those who are outraged, the people that we might call victims.
We need a new language of protest, a new consciousness of irrational peacemaking.
The new language of protest quietly insists on something bold, vulnerable, clear, unknowable, and compelling. We feel our outrage, but we do not become hypnotized by it. Instead we give voice to the unassailable within us.
When we are victimized; when we witness the victimization of others we say, “I am unassailable. You are unassailable. We are invincible source and force. Source and force provide the unrelenting love and truth that needs no defense. This Full-Filling essence compels us to love our enemies and bless those inner and outer demons who curse us.”
I interviewed Gino on Sunday not because she had been traumatized by racism. That was an important part of her story. What made her story compelling (and yes, controversial) was her ability to transcend trauma and find mystical truth in searing hardship.
It happened by accident. She was listening to an Ester Hicks CD. The topic of racism arose. Esther said something like “Don’t try and change the racist. He has nothing to do with you. Change yourself.”
Gino, of course, at first was outraged. “It’s their fault. They need to change. I’m innocent.”
Many of us would react in the same way, saying “If I’m the one who has to change, does that mean I was in the wrong? And doesn’t that smell like blaming the victim?”
Gino battled with all of this, and then decided to try something new. She noticed how the words about race and inferiority were based on the premise that someone outside of her had the power to rile or shame her. She asked, where does the language of racism get its power? Is the power in the words themselves? Is the power in those who speak harshly to me? Is the power a magical vast human conspiracy that decreed words to damage my esteem? Or is the power in my learned, hypnotic belief in untrue sounds – mere vibrations of vocal cords that misinform me and deny my true glorious nature?
We recognized together how easy it is to give our power away. We elevate racists to the position of cause, when in fact they should be effect.
To take back causal power, Gino examined her prejudices and hatreds. She saw her own tendency to project shadows onto others. She looked at her knee jerk plan to hate the haters. After all, weren’t their insults responsible for “making” her feel badly about herself?
These reactions are commonplace. The willingness to embrace and transcend them is rare.
Gino rose to the occasion. She found that she sometimes saw bigotry that wasn’t there. A woman who clutched her purse when she saw Gino, was not reacting to the color of her skin. She was reacting to a heavy purse. Gino reality-checked this with this woman and found the truth.
Gino also discovered a new way of dealing with bigots.
I asked her, “Just because you have a new perspective on racism; just because you’re owning your projections, that doesn’t mean that all racists are going to scurry away. Racists are still real, right?” She nodded and told us a story.
She was tested in a convenience store. A man standing behind her in line ranted and called her a Black-A$$ bitch. She stepped aside, offered him kind words, and spoke out-loud about sending him love. The man didn’t change. He stomped off to his Mercedes and drove away. But Gino changed – she was empowered through her kind response. Her ego died a little that day, for the cause, for more love in the world. And the clerk behind the counter and the others standing in line, said through tears, “That was strong. How did you do that?”
I suspect she achieved poise and equanimity through her unassailable nature. She responded from the Truth that could not be diminished by the evil behavior of others.
We all have that capacity.
When we find the truth of who we are, the verbal bullets that others shoot at us become blanks. Their projections of fear and shame can’t handle the truth of our unassailability. When we love ourselves, when we love our enemies, there’s no place for the projections to stick.
I asked Gino to give our congregation an assignment. “How can we practice these principles so that we may support you and others?” Gino suggested we engage in personal inquiry. “Do the work of uncovering your own prejudices and projections,” she said. “That’s the hardest part.”
I know it’s hard. I’ve been examining my prejudices all week, revealing disdain and fear. It’s especially hard when you really have felt victimized by others; when the voice of the separate self enters into the debate and says, “seriously, how is love going to help? They were wrong; that person is the exception and needs to be punished with your rage.”
If you don’t know how to get started, ask your unassailable nature to assist. It lies “stretched in smiling repose,” waiting for an invitation to change the world through you. Find a community to support you. And most of all, pray.
“I pray that all beings reveal their True unassailable nature. May I reveal my unassailable nature in the face of adversity. And so it is.