Saturday, June 23, 2018

Immigration and Buddhism for People of Color

I love my country.  I love it in a way that only men and women who've served in the military can understand.  I fought in two wars for the United States of America.  

I missed weddings, funerals, and the chance to take part in my college graduation ceremony because my country called, and I answered.

Of course, none of that makes me special.  There are men and women who sacrificed much more than I did in the service of this country.  I say all of this only to make the point that I really and truly love The United States of America.

That being said, our relationship is far from perfect.

It's the type of relationship you have with an uncle who always ruins Thanksgiving, but he gives you spending money every time you see him.  

It's the type of relationship you have with a college friend who helps you fix your car on the weekends, but he hits on your girlfriend when he's drunk.  

It's the type of relationship you have with a parent who keeps a roof of your head and food in your stomach, but they never say, "I love you."

If my relationship with America was on Facebook, our status would be, "It's complicated".  And I think that's true for most people of color in this country.  That's why it's been interesting to watch what's happening at the border.

I'm horrified by how the immigrants are being treated, but I'm not surprised.  How could I be surprised in light of the following facts:

  • Native Americans were forced to send their kids to government-run boarding schools right up until the 1970's
  • My nephew can't play with toy guns because of what happened to Tamir Rice

I could keep going, but you get the point.  People of color have always had a strange relationship with America.

This is the greatest country on earth.  But it has a lot of work to do.  

That's where Buddhism comes into the picture; at least for me.  I know what America can become,  but I'm also aware of the suffering it causes.  And Buddhism is all about dealing with suffering.

Specifically, Buddhism is about learning to practice acceptance in the face of suffering.  It's about seeing the world exactly as it is, and learning to be okay with all of the filth that covers it; even as we grab a broom to try and tidy things up.

My practice helps me do that, by keeping me centered and focused on the task at hand.  Meditation allows all of the hurt and disappointment to fall away for a little while so I can do what needs to be done.  And the precepts keep my ego in check when I'm tempted to act unskillfully.

This allows me to do activist work from a place of peace, not anger.  It helps me see the good in America, even when I'm dealing with the bad.  And it strengthens my faith that things will be better tomorrow, even if they don't look so good today.

Buddhism helps me love my country; even when it doesn't love me back.

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Upcoming Events:

I will be attending an Interfaith Vigil at the Cleveland ICE Field Office to pray for those being detained and deported.  The event will be held Tuesday, June 26th at 6 pm.  Click here for more information.

I will be leading a Meditation Flash Mob on Sunday, June 30th in downtown Cleveland, OH.  It will be held at 4:30 pm in Willard Park (corner of East 9th and Lakeside Ave.)  Click here for more information.

Immigration and Buddhism for People of Color