Category Archives: Black Lives Matter

Healing our story architecturally

“Buildings are not simply expressive sculptures. They make visible our personal and collective aspirations as a society. Great architecture gives us hope. Great architecture can heal.”
-Michael Murphy
 
A few weeks ago I wrote about Bryan Stevenson. This week, Julia told me I had to watch an amazing TED talk she saw by Michael Murphy. It was about architecture that is built to heal.  Michael Murphy has done incredible work around the world. In Rwanda, not only did Michael design a hospital that would prevent unnecessary infections, promote healing, and lift patient’s morale, he was wise enough to work and learn from Bruce Nizeye. Bruce, a local engineer, taught him about Ubudehe, a practice and culture where the community works collectively to support one another and solve problems. Hundreds came out to excavate the site with hand tools.  Bruce started a guild where master craftsmen trained locals to make the furniture.  Fifteen years after the Rwandan genocide, Bruce advised Michael to hire workers from all backgrounds, half of them women.  This process initiated a healing for the community while the hospital was being built
This process is called Locally Fabricated or Lo-Fab and it’s four pillars are:
Hire Locally
Source Regionally
Train where you can
Invest, focus on how to bring dignity to the people that the building will serve.
Michael Murphy
A Lo-Fab hospital in Haiti saves lives from Cholera, a birthing center in Malawi seriously reduces the maternal and infant mortality rate.
Back here in the States, Michael saw that Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative were planning on building a memorial to those who were lynched in the South. Michael asked if he could design it.  The collaboration will be a moving open structure, reminding one of the Parthenon until you get close and realize that the columns are pillars hanging, suspended above the ground like so many were from public town squares.  The names of those who were unjustly taken will be inscribed on these pillars. In a field outside the building, there will be duplicate pillars waiting for each county where lynching took place to claim and display them. This is not to shame these counties but as Michael said, it will allow the nation to, “heal from over a century of silence.”  Michael also pointed out that countries like Germany, South Africa and Rwanda have built memorials to commemorate their atrocities in order to mend their wounded psyches.  America has yet to build this kind of memorial.
Memorial to Peace and Justice
Brene Brown says in her book Rising Strong, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
This applies to us in America.  When we look at our story, we were farmers who fought the most powerful army in the world to create the first nation without a king or emperor. We created a Republic for the people by the people and during the Second World War we made the world safe for democracy. The shadow part of our story that we have yet to reckon with is slavery, bigotry, the genocide and subjugation of Native Americans, institutional misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and too many other phobias.  Because we are unwilling to rumble with this shadow, it sadly becomes necessary to have an organization in 2016 called Black Lives Matter. 
This is the Land of the brave.  If we are set on “Making America Great…” let us love ourselves in the process of owning our story head on.  Not through posturing, pride and insulting one another but through recognizing that we have people like Michael Murphy, Bryan Stevenson, Brene Brown and countless others who are not only resources but are cheering us on toward our real greatness.  Namely, standing for up for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of our citizens.  Equality and harmony are what make us strong.
The third part of Brene Brown’s Rising Strong process is called The Revolution, “where we own our truth in order to write a new, more courageous ending which will transform who we are and how we engage with the world.”
Rising Strong
That is a modern revolution worth having.
As more of us are willing to do this kind of work on ourselves, connections and links are made to build, not a wall, but a structure that brings dignity to the people it serves. That is something we need now more than ever.

Reviving the heart of humanity

“I can see you are me in disguise.”- The Levins

“The shell of a book can be burned…but no one can damage the subtle truth that is beyond any form. – Hua-Ching Ni

*********************************************

Suffragette pic

Last week we watched the movie Suffragette .  It is astounding how much we have suffered and still struggle to go beyond form.  That women should have been pushed to the point of violent social protest to gain the right to vote, especially at a time when they were slaving away in factories, could have been enough to wake us up.

While we were visiting Julia’s sister in Iowa, we all watched the president host a televised Town Hall meeting to address racial tension. More than a hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, that we even need to have a movement called “Black Lives Matter” is beyond disgraceful. It is another call for us to look beyond our current form and become aware of the stream running through everything that is.

Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Teh Ching and Hua Hu Ching said, “The confrontational nature of duality is merely an illusory product of the mind. In order to perceive the integral reality of the universe, it is necessary to transcend the mental process of separation and fragmentation.”

He also said, “There is no separation.  (One) is not the isolated individual (they) thought (themselves) to be. All divine, subtle beings, all enlightened beings are one with (them.)  What happiness one experiences in that state of consciousness!”*

On our way back east, Julia and I played a house concert in Kent Ohio.  Not only were there friends present that strengthen our Judaic-Celtic connection but there was a beautiful Iranian Islamic couple who were huge fans of Hafiz.  They saw our CD: My Friend Hafiz before we played and asked if that was their Hafiz.  Once again, the fourteenth century mystic poet raised the roof of our molecular structure so that we were able to bond beyond seeming separation.

Women, men, Black, White, Hispanic, Gay, Transgender, Disabled… Despite the current political climate, which is acting as a lightning rod to our basest reactions, I still believe we are right on the cusp of recognizing that being attached to form only causes our suffering to increase. The actress Elaine Stritch said she wasn’t old, she was getting older… and that we are all going that way. We are all heading towards releasing this current form, still we cling to it as if that is all there is.

Diversity

We battle to gain equality.  We collectively oppress ourselves because some of our disguises seem to  give us a decided advantage.  But I agree with President Obama when he says, “Reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us.”

Last night Dr. Rev. William Barber said, “When we love the Jewish child, and the Palestinian child…when we love the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith, but they love this nation…we are reviving the heart of our democracy.”

This doesn’t just go for this nation but for the world, not just for democracy but the heart of our humanity.

Through our journey towards accepting that we are all just playing hide and seek, may your bond with those around you be motivated by love so that you can celebrate your current form without attachment.

 

*- Lao Tzu/ Hua Hu Ching – translated and elucidated by Hua-Ching Ni

 

 

[JB1]

Flying the Tricolour of compassion

World of Peace ParisFriday night’s attacks in Paris reached Julia and I while we were at a music conference with our community of musicians and promoters.  Heartache and shock mingled with the fear that makes you want to lock yourself away.  One of the DJs who informed us what had happened also told us that she lives in Boston and had just been talking to a completely segregated high school of black students.  When she discussed the Civil rights movement with them, the students could not get their heads around white people risking their lives so black people could vote or white people wanting to help them at all since they are still experiencing such complete segregation.  In the middle of the country, there is a woman who works for Black Lives Matter who was recently sent death threats by the kkk. She is being targeted because she has adopted black children.  One of her friends came and got the children without hesitation.  This DJ explained to the children in Boston that the kkk was a gang.  A gang of white people with the same mentality as the Bloods and the Crips.  She told them to remember that if they were being recruited by one of the gangs in town that the gang, like the klan and other terrorist groups, would be about violence and would be asking them to perpetrate violence for the sake of violence.

My friend Drake once said that with great light comes a great shadow.  Recently, we have seen a shift in society with marriage equality and the confederate flag being taken down from the state capital of South Carolina.  This backlash is part of the shadow created by the light of our desire to become more human.

We can cower before the shadow or we can refuse to be bullied and light up the globe from so many angles, the shadows get smaller.  Seeing world monuments and people’s Facebook profile pictures flying the Tricolour in support of Paris shows me that we are still human and care for one another.  It becomes all too easy to have a militaristic response and paint one another the role of the enemy.  This is about an individual choice to be non-violent and more loving in our personal interactions.  It is a time to uphold our friendships.  Refuse to forgo your joy but feel it intensely and send it out into the shadows.

Liberty, equality, fraternity (and sorority baby)