The other day I was challenged by a friend to examine how much I am really contributing to bringing about racial and social justice. Am I actually taking action? Or am I just sitting in my white comfort level, content to think that simply believing in equality is good enough?
It was a sobering conversation. I had to take a good, hard look at myself and realized I need to do more.
And then immediately the white guilt kicked in: “Oh! I’m not doing enough! I need to do this and this and help over there.” My brain went into overdrive. Luckily I was able to stop myself before I did any damage.
My job is not to “fix it” so I can feel better about myself. My job is not to “help those poor people over there.” My job is not to “do good” so other people will think better of me. My job is to get hold of myself and work from the inside out.
And it all starts with love. Every time one of those guilt-induced attitudes rears its ugly head, I stop and focus on love. For me, it starts with love for the Great Universal Truth. If I don’t start there—loving all life and the Source of everything—I easily veer off track.
The Buddhists have a beautiful description of giving: it’s just the universe rearranging itself. Starting with this universal love helps me rise above the guilt and paternalism that are so destructive. It helps me realize that we are all working toward the same goal. We have so much to teach each other and so much to learn from each other.
My job here is to help restore balance, to work together to lift us all up, to free all of us from the damage that oppression brings. For oppression is just as destructive to the oppressor as it is to the oppressed; it cages the soul. We all need to be free of its clutches.
And it starts with love. A willingness to listen. And a willingness to learn.
And then act—ceaseless, dedicated effort, joining with others to build a society in which we can all thrive.