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His Death Was the Tipping Point

This changes everything.

These past months, I’ve been walking around (with my mask on), in a daze, in disbelief, in trouble. So confused and outraged I can’t even talk about it.

At first, I thought the Covid19 thing was so big, so unthinkable, it will surely bring us all together. Boy, did I underestimate the power of the limbic system — that primitive part of us that shuts off listening and ignites panic. Emails and texts and messages started coming in from some of my family members who subscribe to the QAnon world view.

For those you who just had the response that I used to have (Oh yeah, that crazy fringe group with the tin foil hats), this is a long but thought-provoking and insightful article about why QAnon is more important than we think. If you have time to read it, it will wipe the condescending smile right off your face. Just like November 5th, 2016 did. We need to pay attention here.

My Trump-supporting family members beseeched me to WAKE UP and see what’s going on — that all our freedoms are being stolen right out from under our noses. One of their firm beliefs (besides the one that Hillary Clinton runs a pedophile ring, and Hollywood only makes the movies the government tells them to) is that the Covid-19 doesn’t really exist, that it is completely invented by the government as an excuse to take away all our freedoms.

Of course I scoffed. I mean. I’m not an idiot. But out of respect, I watched a couple of their videos — two of which were so well produced they almost gave me pause. For a split second, I countenanced a world in which this virus was, ok, maybe not unreal, but blown out of all proportion and being managed for evil outcomes.

And then I remembered. Oh yeah, science. And the now 107,000 deaths in our country (24,023 of them in my state). And Italy, Spain, France, the UK, Brazil. Wuhan. All that pesky reality.

Covid19 may not feel real to people in more rural areas because, to be fair, they aren’t experiencing it like we are here in New York. But that doesn’t make it a hoax. If you’ve lived your whole life never having seen a giraffe, and maybe you’ve only seen photos of giraffes (which you suspect were fake photos anyway), you might believe someone just made that whole idea up, that giraffes don’t really exist.

That doesn’t mean giraffes don’t exist.

Can we agree on that much?

So there’s Covid-19, and QAnon, and my family split down the middle, and the Amazon rainforest burning down, and the California fires, and floods and tornadoes and all the rest of it. Like I said, I’ve been stumbling around in a daze. Shocked. Then shocked again almost immediately with something else. Not only by Trump, but by those who (still!) support him. And then I’m shocked again, and then right away again. Till I’m just too tired for the emotion anymore.

Somewhere in this soup, I watched this video about how ‘deep fake’ videos are made and what the ramifications are. It’s mind-blowing. I came away from it with my trust shattered in pretty much anything that’s delivered by screen.

Until last week. Turns out there’s still plenty of room for shock and grief in my heart. And I do trust certain things coming at me from a screen.

George Floyd’s murder has lit dry tinder in almost all of us. And even with two decades of yoga behind me, it’s still a challenge to stay grounded. He is certainly not the first black man to be murdered by the police. But that event was the tipping point for me.

President Obama’s recent post entitled “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change” helped me understand what I can do, and gave my flailing spirit some traction. Click on that link (do it!), and you’ll find a ‘tool kit’ for those who want to take concrete action.

He writes, “[T]he elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.” It’s boring, undramatic work, but I’m going to make sure I understand who my state and local politicians are. When I go to vote, I’m challenging myself to know their names and what they stand for, without a cheat sheet. Isn’t it lame that I, as an American citizen, have to consider that a challenge? So be it. That’s where I am right now.

Dearest George Floyd, may your death not be in vain. May we whose hearts are still beating and alive stand up as one people and show the courage to not only fight back but to do so by actually, materially, procedurally changing the corrupt system that killed you and countless others.

Educate yourself. Ask questions. Get answers. AND VOTE.

May all suffering cease. May there be peace in the heart of every living being. And may we learn to live in equanimity, free from attachment and hatred.


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