We have all faced two major news stories dominating the headlines: the onset of the ever-mysterious COVID-19 and the renewed battle versus the historically-based systemic racism against people of color. When it has come to the federal response to both issues, the common denominator between the two is the completely bungled response from our President himself. In my humble opinion, that is.
Any iota of innocence regarding either issue should be gone by now. We’ve been blitzed by differing opinions regarding the simple wearing of a mask on one hand and on the other, the more complicated unmasking of the racist walking amongst us. Being centered works with the former while holding the center brings only more frustration and greater unrest to the latter.
Being calm while also seeking clarity when it comes to COVID-19 has been beneficial. I wrote about this in my last blog post. Moving too far to the extreme just brings anxiety. Amidst a very confusing landscape of information, staying centered has been my best response. It has kept me healthy, spiritually and physically.
When it comes to the systemic racism in the United States, taking a stance in the center most certainly does not hold. I’m alluding to the poem entitled The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats, of course. It was written after the First World War and before the Irish War of Independence and ironically, it has also been connected to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
Note: Talk about living in a very interesting time and not just for Yeats. The unsettled nature of that period can provide us insight in the here and now.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre; The falcon cannot hear the falconer…”
We all know about the innate racism that has plagued this country since its founding. Slavery. The Civil War. Reconstruction. The formation of the KKK. Confederate “heroes” being foisted as historical figures worthy of remembrance. Jim Crow laws. The civil rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of us have stuck our collective heads in the sand since that sad day in Memphis, Tennessee. Politicians (on both sides of the aisle) and large-scale businesses (from finance to research to sport) lead the way in that regard. However, do not discount the essence of centrism and the urge for incremental change from the everyday American as a major contributing factor.
When the powerful choose to maintain the status quo – when “the best lack all conviction” – it is left to “the worst” (eg. the disadvantaged) to fight with “passionate intensity.” We can debate what Yeats wanted to say in this poem. What is apparent in a modern context is this: when faced with a systemic problem, if we don’t properly address the issues inherent within it than “anarchy” will be “loosed upon the world.”
“A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun…”
Don’t blame Black Lives Matter for the protests in the streets. Each and everyone of us need to look at ourselves long and hard in the mirror. Judge our own role in the miasma of despair that POC have to deal with everyday. The status quo has to be addressed and undressed in public, if needed. We all need to honestly look at the core foundations of inequality.
Yeats wrote that “surely some revelation is at hand.” The revelation at hand in this case is those core foundations have to be defunded and denuded, at the very least. We can then reimagine and renew the entire system with a holistic and progressive fervor. That will be us at our very best. A “Second Coming” indeed.
And without all the fire and brimstone, thank you very much. It would also be a much more healthy use of the Spiritus Mundi as well.