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Beside Restful Waters

by Greg Hermann

“We don't just live. We must live in a certain way.”

James Vukelich


I must live in a certain way, right. BUT

All lives matter, right?

No doubt, all lives matter.

Today, though, I am painfully grateful for the sacrifice of George Floyd and the many others whose lives have been taken by police brutality. Also, my Native American heritage rages in the wake of the ongoing American efforts to eliminate my ancestry from our “land of the free”.

In a moment of pondering, I rested with the dilemma of my intense compassion for the victims of systemic racism, and the reality that 'all lives matter'. I believe we are all victims of systemic racism, either by ignorance or by direct attack on our existence because of a “difference” in our being – race, creed, sexual preference..........

In my pondering, I reflected on my own physical and mental body. When I am healthy, I take this health for granted. Yes, I make a serious effort to care for my body: eat well, rest well, love well, exercise well, create well, relate to my relatives and my Higher Power. Yet, when a certain part of my being is in pain, I direct my healing energies to that one part.

Recently, a few of my friends have had hip replacements, knee replacements, shoulder surgery and abdominal maladies. Their life routines stopped in order to focus on healing that particular body part. There were doctor visits, trials of a variety or treatments and/or hospitalization. Resources were exhausted in order to treat, correct, and ultimately heal. Subsequent to the primary intervention, usually surgery, there was weeks and months of therapy, follow up consults to insure that the treatments were giving the maximum benefits. Treatment plans may have been modified.

OK. You get the picture. When a certain part of my life style is interrupted with illness, I pull out all the stops to find healing – elimination of pain, repair of worn or broken parts and systems – and ongoing attention to prevent another insult to my being.

This is how I view the reality of our present social disease. Our African American communities, our Native American communities, our Hispanic American communities, and our Mother Earth are suffering in ways that are crippling our life styles. Our addiction to the consumer life style is being addressed in much the same way my personal addiction has been addressed. For decades, I was in denial while people around me suffered. There came a point of paying 'lip service' to my addiction, with superficial efforts to get my act together. Finally, in a moment of truth, I had to honestly admit to the reality of my addiction and its impact on my relatives, all of my relatives. This is when serious sobriety occurred.

Here we are, again, facing our addiction to systemic racism. The addiction is hidden in our life styles in such a way that some of us deny the reality. Some of us suffer from the reality, but not enough to seek help. Some of us are being destroyed by the life style yet we choose to live in agony. Others are taking to the streets to voice our anger, hostility, frustration …...... OUR AGONY.

I ask my God: How can I make a difference?

Her initial response was the command: Be still and know. Be still and act. Be still and grow in relationship to those who are suffering and share their suffering. Be still and vote.

I have not taken to the streets, but I have not been silent.

I have not raised my fist, but I am raising my consciousness.

I have not screamed at the powers that be, but I am not silent.

I am joining my consciousness to all who agonize with our relatives. I will not accept denial or ignorance. I will practice silence to hear the wisdom needed to make then next best expression of my solidarity with my relatives.

I will continue to sit on my meditation mat. And when I stand up, I will ask myself “so what?” and listen for the answer, and act.


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