Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Tiferet shebeGevurah Beauty, Harmony, Balance, Integration; Mediator, Intersection and Facilitator of Khesed and Gevurah within Limitations; Spiritual, Physical, Emotional Strength; and Boundaries.
Quality: Holding paradox
Being a good person, and I do believe most people are good people, is not a vaccine against implicit or unintentional bias. Racism still exists in our country and around the world because that is the legacy of centuries of White Supremacy. Hate is not part of a bygone era. It is an ever-morphing nightmare that many of us know is far from taking its last breath. Yet, everyday we draw closer to the transformation.
Bias and prejudice have morphed. Though I grew up in California, my educational experience was not absent from bigotry. Over the years, there came a time when I less likely to meet an upfront begot. Still, managing the bigotry of people who believe they are not bigoted or, worse, believe they cannot possibly even accidentally be bigoted is downright exhausting. The hurt feelings, the demand that I or another "take it back," the intense anger, indignation... Then there are the people who had multiple ways of saying no, questioning my actions, second guessing my accomplishments, demanding proof for something one can easily look up... people wanting me to be in relationship with them, yet demanding that I change to be comfortable with their repeated thoughtless bigoted actions, resulting in their perpetual defensive social posture...
So, I repeat: Being a good person, and I do believe most people are good people, is not a vaccine against implicit or unintentional bias.
I am focusing on racism because it is the issue we seem to have the most difficulty discussing regardless of background, skin color, cultural awareness, work history… Each of us needs to open ourselves to the ways in which we are complicit in maintaining a system that dismisses so many with consequences that extend beyond race to gender, physical abilities, age, gender identity, and so much more. In all its amazing demarcations, White Supremacist culture demands that we be separated and sorted and be suspicious of each other. It subtly instills in us assertions and certitudes that bend and/or filter how we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste reality.
When we hold paradox, the complexity that there is much we know and many times more that we do not know, we can say: "I am a good person and sometimes I make mistakes that unintentionally hurt another. When I find myself in that position, or someone challenges me to consider the consequences of my words or action, may I face the opportunity with an open heart, open mind, and open soul so that I may continue to grow into being the person I want to become and that the Eternal needs me to be."
When we allow our compassion and our discipline to dance together, we always have room to be with Life as it shows up. Additionally, when discipline and compassion are intertwined, we can apply discernment, creating harmony – space – for all that is occurring without moving into brutality. Said differently, we recognize our humanity in one another.
That’s the true paradox: my humanity is connected to your humanity and your humanity is connected to mine. My liberation is connected to your liberation and your liberation is connected to mine. As James Baldwin said: "Our history is each other. That is our only guide. No one can repudiate or despise another’s history without repudiating and despising their own.
This is the dance of our compassion and our discipline, the complex dance beauty, Tiferet, inside strength and boundaries, shebeGevurah. Though encountering injustice personally and globally remains stressful, there are moments of breakthroughs that make the work rewarding for all involved. The opportunity to be the mediator, facilitator, or midwife such situations almost make the stress worth encountering. Certainly, it does bring grace and healing that moves beyond that situation into the world.
© Sabrina Sojourner 2020