“Absolute Equality” – A mural in downtown Galveston, TX commemorating and educating around Juneteenth and the legacy of slavery in the U.S. As a country, I hope that we will embrace the concept that the first step in making change is admitting that we have a problem.

From an Aikido perspective, I am reminded of the words of Saotome Shihan:

“The goal of Aikido and O’Sensei’s dream is that all the peoples of the world live together as one family in harmony with each other and with their environment.”

MItsuge Saotome Shihan

For my White Aikido brothers and sisters, If you have the opportunity today, stop and LISTEN to your Black brothers and sisters. Try to see the world through their eyes, at least for one day. One day is a start. Follow that day with another, and another, and another. Those of us who experience white privilege have no idea of the struggles that our Black friends and colleagues encounter on a daily basis. We think that we do, but we do not. I recall a Black senior faculty member. He is such a proud and dignified man. He provides loving care to every patient, even those who he knows are prejudiced against him. Since I am what I privately refer to as, “a stupid White person,” I often wondered how he could be so gracious. For myself, I knew that I would harbor great anger about the injustice that he must face on a daily basis. One day, he confided in me how angry he is about the injustice that he faces on a daily basis. Yet, somehow, he finds a way to make his life a manifestation of love. May we be inspired by his example to find in our hearts love for all of mankind.

Change starts with understanding, followed by a commitment to make your little piece of the world a better place. I may not be able to change the world, but every small act, for good or ill, has a ripple effect that extends far past that moment in space and time. I am not so naive as to think that we can all achieve then enlightenment of the Dali Lama or Gandhi. We can seek inspiration from these individuals to strive in all of our interactions to move from a place of love. Just as hate begets hate, love breeds love. This Juneteenth, let us seek to first understand. Once one understands that “The Other” is human, just like me, love must surely follow.

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela, Long walk to freedom


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