Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On the Path

Years and years ago, I asked a dear friend what I should read to get a true picture of the history of his people, the Lakota. He recommended Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

It's more than twenty years later and I still haven't read that book. Why not? Fear. Fear of knowing something unbearable.

I've tried to live up to a standard I've given myself: If they can bear to live through it, the least I can do is dare to listen to the story. But sometimes I fail to meet my own standards.

That's the place to start on this path, the place where I duck, flinch, shrink or cower. Where I feel defensive. Where I resist. Where I have a thousand explanations, justifications, arguments and rationalizations.

The process of liberation from conditioned responses to race (or any other aspect of living and relating) is a path, not a destination. The first step can be paying attention. Discovering where I am, where the patterns I've learned are limiting my life (lots of tools for this coming up in the next few weeks). Looking at what I don't want to see, what I can't bear to feel.

The next step is to make one move, into the discomfort.

Pick up a copy of the book and read it.

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