Owning Choices

Owning Choices

Master of Dreams, wake us up!

Remove us from nightmare,

From anger and tears, horror

And hurt, violence and hate.

Give us understanding

To grow from toddlerhood,

To build well with our gifts,.

Not knock creation down.

As You share the power

To create, share, too, the traits

Of beauty, love and life.

Master of Dreams, grow us up!

                   – Anonymous


As I watch recent events, I resonate with the poet’s plea. The disease of violence in our world seems to worsen.  Most recently in the forefront is  the increased intensity of the ongoing feud between law enforcement and the poor, especially poor black people.  Both sides declare their lives matter (as do all lives); both sides cry out for justice and accountability, and both sides take it upon themselves to shoot the other.  Each side is convinced of the rightness of its actions, and each side is disinclined to stand down first. Whichever “side” one stands on,  there appears to be an impasse.

A deeper look behind the seeming impasse reveals some things that people, in the furor of conflict, seem to have forgotten.  First and most important is that our assumptions underlie our actions; what  we consciously or unconsciously assume creates and promotes the actions that we take.

Here are two of the assumptions that lead law enforcement officers to shoot innocent people (not that they are the only killers of the innocent) :

Assumption 1 – All poor men, especially poor black men, are  dangerous criminals, or at least potentially so.

Assumption 2 – Law enforcement has the license to kill with impunity and its actions are automatically in defense of itself and other citizens.

The list is certainly not comprehensive.

Here are two of the assumptions that lead citizens to snipe at and shoot law enforcement officers, even if those officers are not shooting at anyone else:

`        Assumption 1 – All law enforcement officers, especially white law enforcement officers, are brutal and untrustworthy.

Assumption 2 – Law enforcement officers are at war with citizens, particularly citizens of color.

The list is certainly not comprehensive.

Neither set of assumptions is responsible.  Both sets create an apparent justification for ongoing violence.  If we are to “wake up” , as the poet wishes, we must do so by taking responsibility for our assumptions.  Legislation cannot fix the results of faulty assumptions.  Only our own self examination and willingness to grow and change can do that.

We have the power to change what we think and how we respond. If that were not true, then the whole discussion would be moot, as we would be unable to change.  We would be simply pawns, not human.

What do we want?  Do we want freedom, joy, abundance, beauty?   Or would we rather exist with what we have now?  Freedom and responsibility go together, as sides of one coin.  They are inseparably fused.  If we really want a world which is different from that which is currently in front of us, we need to take responsibility, each and every one of us, for creating it.  We start by examining our current assumptions, letting go of those that perpetuate violence and chaos (some call that forgiving), and through practice replacing those assumptions with ones that generate the results we wish to create.  For example, if we want friends who cherish us, we need to stop assuming that the world is competitive and other people are out to get one up on us or defeat us.

There is always time to change our minds, but the results of our assumptions are coming at an increasingly rapid pace. What do we want?  More of the  same, or the work of changing our assumptions?  It is time we take responsibility.

Peace, Diane