Some courageous athletes took a stand against racist injustice by speaking out in support of the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and the demand to make change. There were others who felt entitled to say that those athletes should shut up and play ball. The athletes continued to stand strong in their truth and in so doing expanded their message throughout the global community. They did not allow the degeneracy of others to define them thereby restricting the meaning of their PRESENCE.
A critical part of making change is understanding the significance of one’s presence wherever that change is needed. We have a presence wherever we happen to be. Our presence in any setting is defined by who we are and by what authority.
Here’s what I mean:
My presence in your house has an identity which is based on how I got there - or by what authority. My identity is that of a guest. By what authority? You invited me for dinner. My presence is that of a welcomed guest by invitation to your home.
My presence in your house as a guest has terms and certain social expectations. As a guest, you accept my presence by welcoming me. I show appreciation by bringing dessert. We will eat visit, laugh, gossip, sing, dance or watch TV. The terms of my presence in your house are such that there is a mutual understanding that my presence as a guest will end - nobody signs a contract but its known that the terms of my presence in your home does include a time to say good-bye.
But, what if I blasted my way into your home with an automatic weapon? What then is my identity? I am an intruder. By what authority? Forced entry with a weapon. The terms and the posture of my presence - as will yours - be very different.
Who am I? An intruder
By what authority? Forced entry with a weapon
I blasted my way in your home. To make sure you get the message, I shoot your dog. You are in shock and horrified. You have no choice about terms, or when it’s time to say good-bye or anything else. I’ll leave when I get good and ready. Or not.
Now, If I don’t intend to leave, I am going to need a way to preserve my forced entry - I don’t want to keep reloading my automatic weapon - and it’s just not a good look for the neighbors or the imaginary folktales I tell myself about what I’m doing there so force has to take another form. The most efficient form is with your compliance. If I am to have your compliance - that is if I don’t straight out kill you and all your family, I will need absolute control. A network of beliefs and practices through rules, roles and rituals will be imposed and some beat downs every now and then. Maybe commit some other horrific perversions just to keep things tight.
The identity I force on you disguises who I am and by what authority. Assigning an identity to you in what used to be your home helps to flip your brain around to comply with my false entitlement. So you need to stay as I have defined your role. You are not a person, you are an object of oppression floating in my orbit. Your presence better stay that way. Obey the rules or things could get rough.
Like a batterer who lashes out because you got a job, made friends or took a class to empower yourself - It’s viewed as a put down. DISRESPECT! An insult to the ego that requires your helpless inferioriority. Your being so uppity is going to bring your eye to run into my fist again. Don’t change who I said you are. Stay in your place or else. This is the only way your presence will be accepted, safe and even at times rewarded.
Who are you? An object of oppression
By what authority? Continued domination
How is your presence accepted in the American setting? Your answers - not somebody else’s - but your answers to yourself will empower you to understand your presence. Looking to others to do this for you is the exact opposite of making any change. No outside entity can reconcile your sovereign personhood.
Now, working with others who went through the same thing you did is not the same as following someone who claims to have your answers. In fact, anyone who tells you they do because they hold some kind of power, charm, anointed righteousness or what the hell - shut it down. Go the other way. And be sure to keep yourself in check because the temptation is to go find somebody in a cape to rescue you, find instant relief and get easy answers. That’s when folks get all tangled up with maniacs who have them drinking poison or castrating themselves waiting for a space ship or following a simple-minded damn fool right over a cliff into a pandemic or some other bowels of hell
At first, in making change or solving a problem, there can be a need for an immediate action to say stop water from gushing out of a busted pipe. Stop the bleeding. Apply the tourniquet. But then comes the time to find the cause. If the cause is rooted in a system that keeps repeating, then comes the time - as its said to do the work.
In doing the work, it is critical to be able to identify what is happening, why and how - identify the engine and all it’s moving parts. This is the point where examining one's presence applies.
In the midst of craziness it is natural to ask “what the heck am I doing here? How did I get in the middle of this mess?” These kinds of questions evaluate presence. The ability to give yourself an answer determines your ability to hit the reset button or do whatever you need to do so you are clear. That includes walking your fine self out the door if things get too crazy.
But when the oppressed - like everyone imprisoned in the house I took over - are conditioned not to feel, not to question, not to protest, cover up perversions, be paralyzed by confusion and distort truths for the benefit of a predator, there is no ability to perceive any other presence except for what is allowed. There is no sense of a sovereign self - PRESENCE.
Not knowing what to do or how to respond results in reactionary solutions. A fixed simple mindedness takes over through faulty reasoning. How can any change occur under these circumstances? Those who are oppressed by any definition are conditioned to only look within those boundaries for solutions. That’s why atrocities, problems and conflict repeat. It makes me think of what Einstein said about the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
In order to make changes, chronic oppression must end. It is the duty of every one singularly to be able to understand the structure of oppression in order to work collectively as a society of people ready to make real change. By dismantling oppression from the self thereby establishing a sovereign presence, we can act - not react - when we detect threatening, coercive, persuasive, and violent symbols, images, behaviors, practices, bureaucracies through rules roles and rituals. In this way oppression cannot repeat, morph or mutate as human beings are collectively able to maintain sovereign selves by defining identity and by what authority thereby upholding an empowered, human and sovereign PRESENCE.
Who are you? A human being
By what authority? By birthright.
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