Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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Beyond The Divide
Seeing The Uniqueness and Divine Connection of Others at the Same Time
Who Is a Racist? What Do We See When We See a Person of Color?
There is a lot of talk about racism these days since the recent murdering of numerous Black men and women. Am I a racist? Are you a racist? Is our system racist?
We live in the American empire which is a racist culture. All empires are racist, classist, sexist, ageist. They discriminate between the rich and poor, Black and White, gay and straight, etc. The American Empire is no different than any other empire. It was founded by people who experienced oppression, and then oppressed Native Americans, the ones who were already here. That is called genocide.
"Isms" all imply better than/worse then. This hierarchical thinking is the cornerstone of Empire Consciousness. Fear, belief in scarcity, and anxiety fuel the desire to get more, own more, have more, be more -- than someone else. All Empire Systems are hierarchical. Those at the bottom are viewed as less worthy tn those at the top. There is constant scrambling to get to the top, stay at the top once you get there. And there is the dehumanization of anyone who is different, and not at the top.
We are programmed by Empire Consciousness. We are taught early on that some are more entitled than others because of who they are, how they look, or their racial backgrounds or other characteristics. We are taught to fear, hate, discriminate, and oppress those who are "different," usually meaning "inferior."
So when we see a person of color, we cannot be "colorblind." We see them as brown, black, yellow, red, etc. Seeing them as the race they are does not make a person a racist. It is how we view them, the attributes we ascribe to them, the way we treat them which determine whether we our actions are racially motivated.
Jesus, the creator of the Christian tradition, taught people to see everyone as worthy, lovable, and deserving of a meaningful and prosperous life. This Oneness Consciousness was his alternative answer to the Empire Consciousness he experienced all around him.
The Unity belief system says that we are can notice the Divine in every person, no matter of their race, class, sexual orientation, age, etc. So, racism comes from making certain assumptions about a person of color. You can still see them as Black. You know that Black lives matter. And you know there is the same Divinity in them as is in you. That is more complicated than the question, "Are you a racist?"
White, Christian, upper class, able-bodied, heterosexual males have had more options and opportunities than others. Acknowledging this means that some people may believe they are more entitled than others. It is challenging to empathize and truly understand the oppression, pain and suffering that many others of differing backgrounds have experienced. So, we are different, diverse in that way.
However, we are alike in our Godlikeness. So Oneness Consciousness is acknowledgement of the EXTERNAL situation of the person in their uniqueness. It also offers the awareness of the Divine Interconnection of the INTERNAL nature all people. We are separate and ONE at the same time.
Empire Consciousness separates, isolates, and discriminates. Oneness Consciousness encourages deep connection, seeing the Divinity, beauty and lovability of ALL PEOPLE.
Racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, ableism -- all about limiting opportunities, choices, and access of a group of people out of fear and the need to feel superior.
Systemic racism is the continual limitation by economic, educational, political, health care and social institutions to provide access to prosperity and freedom for certain groups. We must realize that no one is safe until everyone is safe. No one is really free until everyone is really free. Empire Consciousness is built on fear, oppression, and suppression of individuals and groups.
We can experience both the uniqueness (age, race, abilities, class, sexual orientation, etc.) of a person as well as the inner beauty and Divinity of that person. We are not "colorblind," but we can ALSO deep our spiritual consciousness to experience the "Oneness of us all."
We can work to change institutional racism, systemic racism. We can work on moving from Empire Consciousness to Oneness Consciousness for the good of all creatures of the Universe.
Love and blessings,
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Destiny, Divinity, Diversity
Our DESTINY Is To See Our DIVINITY Amidst Our DIVERSITY
It is our DESTINY to see the DIVINITY in all of the DIVERSITY around us. There is one world, one people, one power, one energy, and one heart. ONENESS
Within this collective ONENESS is individuality, uniqueness and a multiplicity of traits, characteristics, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. There are races, genders, ages, abilities, sexual orientations and identities - but we are all ONE.
Our purpose in life, our soul purpose, our DESTINY is to bring consciousness in ourselves and others to the place seeing the Godlikeness, the ultimate DIVINIY in the complicated DIVERSITY.
Notice how we are different in our appearances, but similar in our breathing. Breath is life, spirit, energy. There is one breath, one spirit and one collective energy.
In this world, it is important to believe that there is enough to share. There is enough to last. If we feed each other, none of us will starve. It is in hoarding that we create scarcity. Our beliefs determine our reality.
Peace and blessings,
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Cross-Generational Wounding: Why White Cops Kill Young Black Men
Every week, we learn that another Caucasian policeman has killed a young black man. There is outrage and violence follows. People try to educate police, and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter.” And others counter with, “All lives matter.” Of course they do. But that reply misses the systemic inequity.
Despite the training, the murdering goes on. Why? It is related to fear and mistrust, which is cross-generational – going all the way back to slavery.
Samuel Osherson, in “Finding Our Fathers,” states that sons carry within them the unhealed wounds of their fathers. I believe it goes even further. The unhealed wounds of grandfathers and great grandfathers are also carried around in son’s hearts.
Slavery was a time when Black lives didn’t matter. Black families were divided, children going to one slaveholder, mother going to another, father to still another. Black people were not seen as people. They were property.
When White men raped Black women, nothing was done. In fact, Black men were accused of raping white women and strung up on trees by gangs of White men. Many more White men raped Black women than Black men rape White women. White men felt guilt about this, and began to fear retaliation from Black men. Black men had no reason to trust wealthy White slaveholders.
Fear and mistrust. It is cross-generational – going way back. White men feared the power of the Black man.
Mythology was created about the prowess and power of Black men. White men believed this power must be held in check. Black men knew they wouldn’t be treated fairly in a White judicial system. Over and over gain, Black men watched their brothers being mistrusted, and killed by White society.
So, when a White cop sees a young Black man, especially in some potentially volatile situation, the White man’s fear and mistrust takes over. He threatens the Black man. The Black man doesn’t trust that getting arrested will lead to a fair trial. He believes his life is over. So he rebels, and the White cop shoots. The cop doesn’t just shoot to disarm, but shoots to kill.
This is impulsive behavior based on centuries of mistrust. White cops do not deal with cross-generational wounding, and Black men have never had the luxury of working through their pain and anger. This type of violence can only stop when we face the historical facts, understand the power of the wounding, and work to truly heal what has happened over and over again.
Quick fixes don’t work. Of course, “Black Lives Matter.” It will take deep emotional work for that to sink in to a visceral level. We have to talk about slavery and social injustice. We have to face the power of the deep wound.
Peace and blessings,
This article originally appeared here in the Twin Cities Men's Center newsletter, April / May 2016 edition.
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Less Than Human
Empire Consciousness, Oppression and the Dehumanization Process
To dehumanize people means to create in image of them that presents them as less than human. They are not really worthy of the rights, considerations, and fair treatment by others. Dehumanization is part of Empire Consciousness, which is about power, domination, control, and shaming. People at the bottom are usually dehumanized, made to be considered "less than," as they are oppressed.
Many minority groups have been stereotyped and dehumanized over the centuries. Native Americans, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities have been portrayed by false images of them or by exaggerating one aspect of them. Slavery has existed for many centuries, and slaves are always dehumanized.
The Bible discusses how the Jews were enslaved to the Egyptians. Others were enslaved as well during that time. Caste systems and class systems were present in biblical times.
During the 1800's in America, Africans were imported into slavery. Slaves were bought and sold. Families were destroyed. Upper class White slave owners hired lower class White people to police the slaves. Lighter skinned Black people were servants in the house. White lower class people were not servants--they were the militia. This created a divide between Black and White lower classes. The fear was that if they were united, they might overthrow the land-owner and slaveholder, revolt, and flee to freedom. It was an intentional way for the wealthy to divide and conquer.
Systemic racism and classism is how Empires work. One of the by-products of Empire Consciousness and hierarchy is fear. Those at the bottom fear those at the top who wield power over them. Those at the top fear rebellion and retaliation from those at the bottom.
There is also a deep reservoir of guilt in those who dominate and oppress others. Deep down they know they are destroying the lives of others. This guilt is covered over by justifications. "They asked for it. They aren't really human anyway, so they deserve to be kept down, limited, punished, controlled, dominated, killed." Fear on both sides escalates into violence. So, Empire Consciousness always results in suffering, oppression, fear, guilt, shame, rage, and violence.
A consciousness shift from Empire Consciousness to Oneness Consciousness is the ONLY way we can move out of the hell that human beings have created over and over again. Oneness Consciousness is seeing the oneness, connection and sameness in each person. We are equal and we are ONE.
Peace and blessings,