by Julien Devereux
At our recent Strategic Planning meeting in New Jersey, Deb Mauger gifted me a T-Shirt from the MKP USA Cape Cod and Island Community that says, “Ending Violence is Men’s Work.” This was days after Philando Castile was shot because he had a gun, although he was licensed to carry it, and Alton Sterling was killed, and he had a gun, but he was not threatening anyone with it. This, just a month after the Pulse Orlando massacre.
I landed back in my hometown, Dallas, Texas to find that five policemen were dead, having been attacked because of their race and their position as police officers. Then the shooter was killed by a robot.
The powerful raw footage of these violent acts impacted me deeply in my heart and body. I believe that some of the heroes in these events were the ones who would not look away and continued to visually record the events. I am reminded of the stark videos from Selma, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and the gritty pictures and videos from Vietnam and the National Guard shooting students at Kent State. For me, these images shake me out of my denial and complacency about what is going on and make it very real, not a video game or an action movie, where violence is entertainment.
People are being killed. What do we do about it? One of the first things that has to happen for me to make a change is for me to get uncomfortable about the status quo. If I am comfortable I am not willing to change. Today, I am uncomfortable.
Personally, I found myself not wanting to look at the videos. I wanted to remain a comfortable distance from the events. I did it anyway. That distance is gone. I began to search for information and responses to the violence. We have had so many of these incidents lately that now it seems that taking a side and knocking the other side is a useless strategy. There are no sides. We are in the middle of a social crisis. I am reminded of a phrase I have heard and repeated thousands of times as a Social Worker, “if you want peace, work for justice.” Justice in one dictionary definition is “genuine respect for people”. I am using that one for now.
So what do I do to live into a way of life that demonstrates my genuine respect for all people, regardless of real or perceived differences between us?
Rick Broniec posted a great article about his experience of these events. I related because I too am a white, straight, middle class man. I’m also a native born Dallas Texan which holds a number of cultural shadows including the assassination of a sitting President. He included a list of personal things to do on his blog that you or I can take according to your readiness to do something.
Rick’s list is posted on the link here for you to review. http://www.vibrantrelationshipsguy.com/im-male-and-white-and-straight-and-i-cant-sit-idly-by-anymore/ .
My friend David Davis posted on Facebook how much of a difference we as a global brotherhood can BE one on one for the man who brings his anger, sadness, and frustration to us. We can hear him, hold him, and honor him and ourselves in times like these so we don’t retreat into isolation, helplessness, and despair. When we create the space to share feelings, insights, experience and connection maybe we will not need to act out in a violent way.
Now is the time for those of us ready to do so to demonstrate the courage to reach across the huge gap of differences between us: racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, and more. It’s time listen to how we impact each other and the world around us. It’s time to make commitment: to change ourselves first, to improve our close relationships, to move out into the world and be the change. If we are in institutional positions of authority to widen our organizational embrace to include, appreciate and celebrate the diversity around us.
Here is what we in MKP USA have done institutionally in the last year to be the change:
- The MKP USA Board approved and published the Statement Against Oppression and Racism specifically pointing out the carnage that has played out over the last week on African Americans by Law Enforcement officers. https://mkpusa.org/statement-against-racism-and-oppression/
- The MKP USA Board and Council passed a list of actions steps, the Proposal to Recommend Actions For Implementing Policies of Inclusion, which has been published and distributed for action to the North American Leader Body, The Elder Society, LKSI, YWTA, The MKP USA Curriculum Development Circle, and others. https://mkpusa.org/statement-against-racism-and-oppression/
- The MKP USA Board approved and announced a multi-year, multi-level professionally designed Equitable Community Initiative for MKP USA to build an effective structure and support activities to create an inclusive environment within MKP USA and in relation to our strategic & community partners. The Equitable Community Initiative is being energized and will begin meeting by Sept. 2016.
- We added Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday as an official holiday for employees.
- The North American Leader Body and the MKP USA Elders increased their requirements for demonstration of Intercultural Competency.
- The Curriculum Development Circle is reviewing current and proposed trainings to determine if demonstrable skills of Intercultural Competency are included in the training as a primary vetting criteria.
- The Issues and Isms Presenter’s Circle is meeting to refine their curriculum, certification process and delivery methods.
- The MKP USA and VISIONS agreement has been renewed and restored to integrity.
- We accepted an invitation from the Men’s and Women’s Oyate at Pine Ridge to enter into an alliance, the first that they have initiated in 167 years and gifted them with our NWTA protocols to use on the Pine Ridge Reservation. https://mkpusa.org/oyate/
- The GBTQ Gateway NWTA was delivered four times in the last year.
We are a group of 57,000 New Warriors who believe that life is sacred. All life, human life, animals, the Earth.
We have created a statement to specifically call attention to the egregious abuse of power when law enforcement kills African Americans who are not threatening them, while white perpetrators are often apprehended without being killed. Retaliatory violence, like we witnessed in Dallas, only brings more bloodshed, violence, and destruction.
STOP IT! Stop killing each other, what will it take? It will take all of us and each of us committing to not turning away, not keeping silent, keep the video running, write my congressman, write letters to the editors.
There is infinitely more to be done and said. I believe that cultural and societal change does not have to be violent. I believe that we are each capable of being powerful without resorting to violence. The ManKind Project is proof of this possibility. It’s past time.
Blessings, and in Solidarity,
Chairman, MKP USA