Pema Chodron, a Buddhist monk best known for her work in keeping us all sane, publicly addressed the country’s current state of frustration, sadness and confusion. Up there with Rumi, Chodron is one of the most quotable inspirational and spiritual teachers we know, so when she has something to say our ears perk up, especially when she’s addressing current events, which doesn’t happen often.
Chodron shared her thoughts via Facebook (as modern monks do) on the repetitive injustices towards people of color, the recent police shooting in Dallas during a peaceful protest against those injustices, and what we can do to ultimately “move toward justice for all these victims of endemic racism.”
Without claiming to have all the answers, Chodron offers that “the root problem is fear and hatred” and echoes the sense of uncertainty many of us have been feeling, yet a hopefulness that “there has got to be a way.” She shares that she is committed to continue to help where she can through her teachings and points to white people, including herself, to not sit back in silence, saying “…white people can no longer ignore what is going on.”
Here’s her full statement:
“It has finally really gotten through to me how dangerous it is to be black in America, especially for black men. It feels like Emmett Till all over again. Even in the case of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a private citizen, I wonder ‘How could it be that George Zimmerman was not convicted of any crime?’ As this systemic oppression is seen over and over again in full sight with no justice, it is not surprising that there will be violent reactions such as the tragic shooting of 12 innocent police in Dallas.
If parents of black children have to teach them how to behave with police so they won’t get killed, there is something wrong with this picture. This situation is deeply disturbing to most Americans, including most police officers.
In the US, racial injustice has been going on since the days of slavery. But what is different now, is that the videos of the murders are there for all to see, and white people can no longer ignore what is going on. I am one of them. I don’t know what the solutions are. In fact, anything I would come up with I am already hearing from Black Lives Matter, Dallas Police Chief David Brown, and others, but there has got to be a way for us to move toward justice for all these victims of endemic racism.
The root problem is fear and hatred and how this escalates, which is where my kind of teachings could be useful. I am committed to continue to help where I can.”
We applaud Pema Chodron for speaking out and saying something where others in her position might decide to stay vague or removed. (Warning: the comments on her post, however, will give you a headache.)
It’s hard to say what exactly the yoga community can do to make a difference, but if there’s any group who knows about self-inquiry and reflection, it’s yogis, and this may be just one of the many instances where practicing off the mat can make an impact. Understanding, education and keeping an open mind (and heart) is a start.
There have been many articles written in the aftermath of what’s happened, not just in response to the deaths of Dallas police officers or Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, but to years (decades) of racial tensions and systematic discrimination brought to a head more recently by the increase of exposure due to technology and social media. Here are a few recommended:
image via Pema Chodron Foundation
- ‘Queering Yoga’ Documentary Seeks To Empower And Educate
- Inclusive Diversity: Making Yoga More Accessible
- Yoga’s Diversity Backlash: A Conversation On Including Others (Meaning Everyone) And Creating New Norms
- The Struggle Of The Black Yogi