‘Blood and Soil’ they cried. ‘Blood and Soil’ etched across banners, wielded like flags on a battlefield. Only this battle was fought long ago. Was it not? So many people seemed to think so. And yet, here it is… resurrected. ‘Blood and Soil’, the relationship between man and the land they claim. A romantic notion that was sold as ink, but that was in fact written in human blood.
The Nazis believed that purity would be restored to the land by a eugenics program. They believed that returning to the purity of the land and to the select ‘type’ who deserved it would be the cure for so many of the problems plaguing the world. Those who deserved it… A concept infected with implication so dark that no one could even conceive of the implication, until its implication was exacted upon the world. The implication was that all who did not fit into that idealized category would be eradicated. The Nazis of Germany targeted many groups of people who did not fit into the box of their ‘ideal race’. What I am speaking of is genocide. Genocide of the sick and the healthy. Genocide of the rich and the poor. Genocide of the young, the old and everything in-between. They believed that a person’s characteristics, attitudes, abilities and behavior was determined by their racial makeup. They believed that it was transmitted like a disease from one generation to the next and that no man could overcome that infection. They targeted Jews (not for their religion but for the ‘characteristics’ they believed were inherent to the group). They targeted people with disabilities. They targeted Romanian gypsies, Poles, Soviet prisoners, homosexuals, Jehovah witnesses, people with black skin (especially Afro-Germans). And anyone who opposed their ideologies. They believed that to not eradicate these inferior groups of people, was to be eradicated themselves.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" These are the words etched on our statue of liberty… The symbol of America. I was born and raised in America. America is my home. And as an American, I stand by those words that forged the foundation of the ideology of the country I call home. But today, watching so many of my ‘fellow country men’ I feel like France should sail here and take the statue back. Today, we do not deserve it. We do not deserve to lie to the world like that. The statue of liberty does not say "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! ... Except if you’re Black or Jewish or Middle Eastern or Mexican "
On August 12th, a protest was organized by a group of white supremacists intent on asserting the legitimacy of white culture by defending the legacy of the confederacy. For anyone who doesn’t know, the confederacy was the group of states fighting in the 1800s for the right to keep slaves (black slaves to be exact). Robert E. Lee was a confederate icon. The progression of collective human consciousness therefore has recognized him as a villain and not a hero. As such, the statue of him in Charlottesville, Virginia was going to be removed. But then, the protesters showed up. Like termites coming out of the woodwork, they appeared. And the sheer amount of them was a shock to the senses. And so did the counter protesters. They faced off and eventually a state of emergency was declared. When a group of the counter protesters moved away from the conflict, a Nazi sympathizer rammed his Dodge Challenger into the crowd, killing one and injuring dozens. In a twist of fate, a state police helicopter called to respond to the conflict, crashed, killing two pilots.
The protesters were part of a group that is now calling themselves “The Alt-Right”. A group of white nationalists, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and radical far right political advocates. The event has spurred protests across the country. In a state of mortified shock, the rest of the country has watched as colleagues, family members, employees and acquaintances are ‘removing their hoods’ so to speak and coming out of their closets in support of what we thought no modern man could ever support. We have watched our own president come out publicly to condemn the counter-protesters and be thanked publicly by the white nationalist leader David Duke. The shock in this country is palpable and so is the conflict. It is the atmosphere that has preceded so many civil wars throughout history.
I have been honest that what we are collectively headed towards in the world (not just in the country) is a collective awakening. The problem with awakening moments throughout history, whether they are personal or collective is that suffering tends to be the method of awakening. We had one such awakening in the world 72 years ago, with the Second World War. The poetic horror of course is that the very same ideologies that led us into that dark night of the collective human soul are the very same ideologies now being held as banners; the very same chants being cried in the streets. And what we know about universal expansion is that if a lesson isn’t learned the first time, the lesson comes back bigger the second time. And if it isn’t learned the second time, the lesson comes back bigger the third time. Those of us who have already learned the lesson are now the teachers. Teachers who can only hope our voice will cut through the unconsciousness of our fellow men.
Whenever movement occurs towards an expanded form of consciousness, we encounter the ‘protest’. We experience a polarization. The old clashes violently against the new. You can consider it a final revival of what is destined to die in the name of progression. You can see this in your own life. And you can see it in the world… Unconsciousness clashing violently against the movement of consciousness. It will not cease until the collective experiences an awakening, no matter how many lives that costs us. This is why awakening is no longer a luxury for the human race. It is a necessity.
Many people considered themselves to be ‘awake’ before this recent conflict occurred. But if we were awake, why were we so surprised? Why were we so surprised by the sheer number of people who came out of the woodwork to support what we consider atrocity? As a spiritual leader, I will stand on the side of awakening and say that amidst all of this atrocity, there is something necessary that is arising… An end is coming to the façade.
For years, these white nationalists, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and radical far right political advocates hid behind hoods, closed doors and then pretenses. The only people who truly saw them were the people they targeted. The African Americans always saw it. They’ve been screaming at the top of their lungs about it for years. The Mexicans saw it. The Jews saw it. Anyone who looked as if they could possibly come from the Middle East saw it. Racism has lurked in the shadows of the collective consciousness, like a phantom only making itself known to its direct victims. But now, it is in plain view. All of us can see it. Or can we?
People keep asking me “What can I do to help?” about this situation in the United States. I have two answers. The first is to make sure you are on the right side of history if you are ever put in a position to have to choose sides (which as a teacher of integration is the last position I would ever want to see any of us in). Men like Robert. E Lee (or shall I say his statue) found this out the hard way. The second answer, which is far more important, is to become aware of the racism within yourself and face it directly.
Something that continues to be an impediment to awakening is the moral superiority of the human ego. For this reason, I am not concerned with the white nationalists, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and radical far right political advocates. They already know they are racist. Now, they are flying banners in support of racism in the streets. The problem is that they don’t see any problem with being racist. Instead, I am concerned with the racism that lurks deeper in the collective human consciousness. This is not the racism that leads to prejudice or lynchings or genocide. But it is the racism that continues to feed the separation between men. And this form of racism occurs within us all. It occurs even within the minds of men who consider themselves to be the very most liberal and the very most anti-racist people walking our planet today. If we want awakening within our species, we are going to have to recognize the things within us that we do not want to recognize... The things we defiantly insist aren’t there. This means if we are going to end racism, we are going to have to admit that it is there.
Racism is no longer a subject that is up for debate. It has been scientifically proven that even the most ‘accepting’ and ‘liberal’ among us react differently (even if just our heart rate) when we are exposed to different races. Some of this is simply because for millions of years, our species has evolved to avoid the unfamiliar and dangerous. Anything that is “unfamiliar” or “other” than us is naturally something we cannot predict or understand. This makes it a potential threat. We are not at ease around it. We may be curious but we are weary. The natural distrust could stop there. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t because the human mind loves to categorize. We do this so that we can stay safe. Judgment is a critical part of survival. If we are being charged by a thousand pound wild animal, we don’t have time to think about whether it is a threat or not. Our mind takes previous things we’ve been told and previous things we’ve experienced and sorts it into a category so that the minute we see those things, it’s liked to a certain response. You can consider judgment the thing that helps us navigate our external world. In alignment with these judgments, what is ‘me and mine’ vs. what is ‘other’ was a very important thing to figure out. This is how we worked out a sense of belonging, which was also liked to survival. Our survival depended on 'our group’.
No child is born a bigot. No child is born a white supremacist. No child is born hating whites. They are educated into this judgment. They encounter life experiences as well that lead them to this judgment. And whether you like it or not, because the human mind likes to generalize and categorize and stereotype, these judgments exist and they constantly effect how we experience the world. The path of awakening takes you straight to the mirror. You become aware of your thoughts, your feelings and your actions… Every subtle reaction that you have to the world.
Those of us who identify ourselves as Anti Racists also need to become aware of the racism within us. We need to face it directly so that we can corrode the separation between us as people. We need to see that this collective problem is within us all. It is in you if you lock the car door when a black man walks by you on the street. It is in you if you feel totally surprised when a Hispanic man turns out to be rich. It is in you if you are afraid that the Middle Eastern taxi driver you just got into the car with might be a terrorist. It is in you if the only thing you can think of when you think of taxi driver is a Middle Eastern man. It is in you if you assume a white woman has lived a pampered and sheltered life. Any ethnic stereotype is the seed of racism, most especially negative ones, because any ethnic stereotype can and often does lead to prejudice, antagonism, discrimination and the belief that your own ethnic group is superior. And the reality is, whether we like it or not and whether we express it or not, we can all feel it in each other. It is like the elephant in the room.
The problem with our attachment to morality and with that, political correctness, is it puts the ego in the position to sweep things we might judge as ‘not ok’ within us, under the rug of our own awareness. We might be the person who locks the car door when a black man walks by and the next day, attend a black lives matter rally. This is a split within our psyche. A split that we can never remedy and an ethnic stereotype we can never remedy because we can never admit to it within ourselves.
The majority of the racism we experience is the result of pain we have experienced or pain we anticipate experiencing. For example, if a child is raised in a house where their parents are constantly saying things about blacks like, “They are like animals.” “They will replace us”. “They are dangerous”. “They are dirty”. And blaming them for everything that is going wrong in their family’s lives, a child is going to grow up anticipating that blacks = pain and even annihilation. Instead of addressing this vulnerability of pain and fear directly and allowing themselves to have a different experience of blacks, they will unconsciously respond to blacks with attack and defense (prejudice) as if they are a threat. They may grow up to attend a rally like we saw in Charlottesville.
You need not shame yourself for the racism within you. Instead you need to find and care-take the vulnerability, fear and expectation of pain inherent within your racism so that you can help yourself as well as others to allow for a different experience relative to whatever you fear. By doing so, we can come closer together. We can take each other out of the category of “other”.
In the name of genuinely ending racism, I ask you to become conscious of the racism within you today. Write a list of ethnic groups (including your own) and next to each one, write a list of all the ethnic judgments and stereotypes you hold towards that group. Allow yourself to do this without thinking about it, as if you are allowing your subconscious to run away with you without any brakes. When you look at these lists, can you see how the negative racial judgments have already or could lead to prejudice, antagonism, discrimination or the belief that your own ethnic group is superior? Do not shame yourself for this. It doesn’t mean there is anything bad or wrong about you. It means you are becoming conscious of the hidden and suppressed vulnerability within you. Underneath every one of those judgments is vulnerability. What is the origin of your racial judgments? Look underneath every one of them to see if you had any painful experiences that led to them. Look under every one of them to see if they originated from something you might have been told once. The vulnerabilities underneath these judgments are real, even if the judgments themselves are not a reflection of what is objectively real. From there, you can question our own judgments and even challenge them.
When we separate out the vulnerability that is causing us to form these racial judgments from the validity of the judgments themselves, we can change them without invalidating and suppressing the pain or fear we feel. There is an opening within our being to have a different and positive experience with people of the specific race that we judged; one that opens us to other people, instead of closes us to them. If we were willing to hear, see, feel, understand and hold the vulnerability behind these racial judgments for each other, we could heal each other. We could integrate instead of uphold the segregation we still experience in the world, and bigotry of any kind would eventually end. But we have to be brave enough to do this… You have to be brave enough to do this.
“Blood and Soil” we should cry. Not in support of the superiority of a specific race or even of a specific species. But in support of every sentient being and the land that gives us all life.