On Sunday, June 7th, Mark and I went to Washington, D.C. to bear witness to the newly inaugurated Black Lives Matter Plaza. The Plaza is immediately adjacent to Layfette Square and spans and renames almost three blocks of 16th St., within sight of the White House.
It was here, two weeks ago, that peaceful protesters were forcibly dispersed by police who used tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets to disrupt the peaceful demonstration. The protesters were exercising their rights under our Constitution to demand redress for George Floyd’s murder and for the murder and discrimination against other Black citizens who have been victims of local and state policing policies.
Several hundred peaceful protesters were gathered during our Sunday, June 7th, visit to Black Lives Matter Plaza. Many left messages of hope and challenge in the steel barrier fence that had been erected around Layfette Park. Some protesters shouted slogans, others silently held posters and signs that were reminders of the last minutes of George Floyd’s life; “I can’t breathe.” One particularly wrenching poster we saw was held by a small African American boy – perhaps six or seven years old – which asked, “Are you going to kill me, too?”
Mindfulness is social action – it is becoming aware of and witnessing the suffering we have collectively and systemically inflicted on our fellow citizens of color. It is also remembering our highest and best selves – our values and Ideals and bringing them to bear in this time of challenge and change.
We are all called to be mindful now, looking deeply at systemic racism and white privilege. Mindfulness requires that we not flinch or turn away from the suffering of others: it challenges us to engage our Ideals and apply them intentionally to be part of the solution instead of silent supporters of the problem.
Mindfulness means that we take action to educate ourselves in order to work intentionally for meaningful change that ensures safety, dignity, and equal opportunity for all people – and all beings. Mindfulness challenges us to make the mantra, “Black Lives Matter”, a reality.
May we all meet this moment with mindful awareness, looking deeply into our own hearts and finding the courage and compassion to embrace this moment of potential and take action to bring about positive and lasting change.