Friday night my dear friend, John Fleming, along with my producer, Dennis Tardan, and I recorded a deep, passionate and meaningful conversation about the murder of George Floyd and racism in America. I consider John to be an example of the New Compassionate Male standing in his truth with an open heart. His message is powerful and needs to be heard. A word of caution, you may be triggered by some of what is shared. I invite you to listen to this excerpt in its entirety. Additional excerpts will follow in the coming days.
John Fleming is a Prayer Chaplain and a true servant leader and volunteer at Unity Church of the Hills in Austin Texas. He is on the music team, is a Prayer Chaplain, and he is part of the Pastoral Care Team. John is Director, Advocacy and Partner Relations – Survive2Thrive Foundation | Staff Staff Services Officer at the Texas DSHS/Vital Statistics Unit.
Ram Dass wrote a letter some years ago to a family who had lost their young daughter, Rachel. Although he wrote it to these two parents specifically, everything in this letter applies to anyone who has lost a child.
Dear Steve and Anita,
Rachel finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.
I can’t assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.
Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience. In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.
Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts – if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.
The Gender Equity and Reconciliation process seeks to heal the profound wounds around gender, sexuality, and relational intimacy. It brings together people of all sexual orientations and genders to jointly confront gender disharmony to reach healing reconciliation. Will and Cynthia have developed the method over 28 years, introducing the practices in nine countries.
Gender reconciliation’s startling successes in South Africa have played a role in transforming that country’s AIDS and HIV policies, and exciting new academic research on the program is underway at two South African universities. Learn more about the work of Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix via their organization, Gender Reconciliation International.
Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix with Bishop Desmond Tutu
This powerful presentation is well worth pausing for.
Valarie Kaur – Activist, lawyer, filmmaker
Valarie Kaur is a social justice activist, lawyer, filmmaker, innovator, mother and Sikh American thought leader who founded the Revolutionary Love Project — a movement that envisions a world where love is a public ethic.
Why you should listen
Valarie Kaur is a civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Her social justice campaigns have helped win policy change on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality and internet freedom. She founded Groundswell Movement, the Yale Visual Law Project and Faithful Internet, initiatives that equip new generations with tools for social change. During her work inside supermax prisons, on the military base at Guantanamo and at sites of mass shootings, she identified a surprising key element for social change: the ethic of love. She now leads the Revolutionary Love Project to champion love as a public ethic and wellspring for social change.
Kaur earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School and Yale Law School. She lives with her film partner and husband Sharat Raju and son Kavi in California, where her family settled as farmers a century ago. She is a member of the California Bar.
This 30-minute talk is thought-provoking and worth pausing to watch.
Does a socially just society require a radical feminist overhaul of dominant patriarchal structures? Dr. Robert Jensenis a professor of journalism at The University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of many books, and he writes opinions and analytics on foreign policy, politics, and race for popular media. His work has appeared in papers and magazines across the United States.
Babbitt (1922), by Sinclair Lewis, is a satirical novel about American culture and society that critiques the vacuity of middle-class life and the social pressure toward conformity.
The word “Babbitt” entered the English language as a “person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards”.
Great advice from Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”