The Hero lies In You

One evening just after Christmas I was hustling along a very busy and cheery 125th St., looking for a women’s clothing store I had heard might have something I was looking for. It was a really nice, cold, crisp almost dark winter evening, and I felt happy being among e shoppers and barkers outside the small stores. One of the men working for a gold reclamation store stepped into my path, with no malice, and said “Up against the wall”. He said it with great good humor. I was not at all either offended or afraid, but I was startled for a second, and looked around to realize that indeed I was the only “white ” person on the sidewalk.
I am very at home in the African American community. Honestly, I am maybe more at home there than in other environments. But of course I can’t see myself…and to this person I looked decidedly out of place. So I got instantly the point he was making, and when I got home, I began to research the NYC Stop and Frisk policy. In the last year 700,000 mostly young men of color have been stopped and frisked because they were seen by someone to be in the wrong neighborhood. This is allowed by law…and is a form of terrorism on a whole community.
and now, last week, a young man named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida by an “neighborhood watch” volunteer who “saw him as a threat” Trayvon was walking home from a convenience store.
I am always fascinated by New Age-ish “spiritual” sorts who do not want to discuss the very real challenges which exist in our world. The Buddha was one of the earliest crusaders for equal opportunities for women, as was Jesus of Nazareth,. Both of them actively worked to dismantle their respective culture”s caste systems, Buddha was an environmentalist and encouraged people to plant a tree every year to make up for their own consumption of natural resources. Buddha too marched every day for Peace and Enlightenment, even going door to door, ad was in at least one occasion a peace keeper between warring rulers.
In this time of year, when Christians are preparing for Easter and Jews for Passover, we ignore the demands of being conscious spiritual forces of both word and deed to our peril. The leaders who are idealized and quoted so freely after their deaths, we’re overwhelmingly people of courage, and spoke truth to power in the moments when it mattered….when it was happening!
I am grateful for the intervention of my angel /friend on 125th St. That Saturday evening in December. once then, I have sought out was to be of help in supporting our leaders to re-think both the Stop and Frisk policy, and the illegal racial and religious profiling of Muslim Americans. I pray that you will be inspired to join with me in becoming a source for change in our City, our beautiful New York City, which is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress from the events of 9/11. Like the Buddha, like Jesus of Nazareth, like the many courageous women and men who have stepped up to speak to injustice throughout history, you have a hero in you…
This week let us contemplate upon the depth of the power of a witness.
Stay awake, as the Buddha would remind us.
You can’t rush a poem, but you can change the course of history, about which many poems of inspiration will be written.
Have a great week.
Rev. Jane

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