Pandemic. Election and divisive politics. Red States v. Blue States; Us v. Them. This is not healthy. We have forgotten that we have so many more reasons to come alongside one another than we do for pushing apart.
On Saturday night (Nov 7 2020) in the United States the NBC television network broadcast Saturday Night Live, with the comedian Dave Chappelle as the guest host. His opening monologue was brilliant, and captured many of the thoughts and feelings pervading the American public. You can find it easily on YouTube if you’d like to watch; it’s worth taking the 16 minutes to do so.
Today’s NYTimes published an excerpt of his monologue, which I’ve reproduced below. You can read the entire article at this link:
— Nearing the end of his monologue, Chappelle struck a more sympathetic tone. “For the first time in the history of America, the life expectancy of white people is dropping — because of heroin, because of suicide,” he said. “All these white people out there that feel that anguish, that pain, they’re mad because they think nobody cares — maybe they don’t.”
But let me tell you something, I know how that feels. I promise you, I know how that feels. If you’re a police officer and every time you put your uniform on, you feel like you’ve got a target on your back. You’re appalled by the ingratitude that people have when you would risk your life to save them — ooh man, believe me, believe me, I know how that feels. Everyone knows how that feels. But here’s the difference between me and you: You guys hate each other for that, and I don’t hate anybody. I just hate that feeling. That’s what I fight through. That’s what I suggest you fight through. You’ve got a find a way to live your life. You’ve got to find a way to forgive each other. You’ve got to find a way to find joy in your existence in spite of that feeling.”
People are not the enemy; hatred is the enemy. The people I fear are not the enemy; fear is the enemy. Anger is the enemy. Can I live with these feelings, but not be owned by these feelings? It is natural to feel these ways; what can I learn from each feeling? That I am afraid? That I have been violated? If so, then how can I make my space safer; more just?
Wisdom is found when people are willing to notice without judging. Observe deeply, and then intervene. Accept that each of us feels strongly, and still treat each other with respect and dignity.
If you find yourself in a situation in which another person is driven by fear and anger, find that place inside yourself where there is stillness. It never goes away; it just becomes more difficult to find in agitated moments. But if you are willing to find that still point within, over and over again in your daily meditations, then the pathway will be well worn and easy to follow. Agitation met with agitation becomes a catastrophe. Agitation met with stillness and equanimity can become a dialog, maybe even a conversation. And from these conversations may come wisdom, but that will only happen when at least one person in the room is willing to do the work of locating that still point and inhabiting it.
Here is today’s meditation video, with the audio only found below.