When I speak about the idea of Everybody As Our Own, the response is often something like “Really! Everybody as our own? Do you know what is going on out there? The police are killing innocent people. There are Muslim bans, children in cages at the southern border, and riots at the capitol. We are afraid of each other. There is pure hate out there.”
And they look at me with sad eyes that reflect something like…poor thing, she’s in fantasy land, one of those “touchy feely” folks.
But they don’t know me. I do not live in a fantasy land, and while I welcome a warm hug every now and then, especially in these COVID times, I am far from “touchy feely”. I know about the things that separate us. I know that in many ways we see ourselves as a society of strangers.
So this is what you really need to know about me: I am a warrior who has battled the forces of white supremacy, racism and oppression since childhood. I am a veteran of the civil rights movement and I have my share of scar tissue.
And I am also a lover. Because as a child of the civil rights movement, and of the community and family that raised me, I was taught right action, right relationship and the Beloved Community. And that is what I continue to seek and make real in my life.
Everybody As Our Own is a radical and transformative idea that could change the world if we could live it. But it’s hard work and heart work – not for those who practice selfishness, timidity or fear. And here’s the thing (and this may seem paradoxical): we don’t need everybody. We simply need enough.
We need enough wise women and honorable men, ethical lawmakers, compassionate healers, gifted and dedicated artists, caring parents, peace makers and love leaders who are willing to commit themselves to this grand idea. We need enough of us who are willing to actually practice in our daily lives the world we believe in.
I admit it. I am making certain assumptions about you. I am assuming that you are good hearted, fair minded, justice seeking, compassionate, and deeply respectful to those you encounter. Can you handle that? Can you be that much? You found your way here and that’s a good sign. It is not about what’s out there. It is about what’s in us.
We often look back and focus on the bad stuff, and on those who do not share our vision. We give them too much “air time”. They get in our heads and we doubt ourselves, our dreams and what is possible.
If we must look back and remember, I suggest that we remember the ancestors. Remember those who bore the lash of slavery, who died on the trail of tears, those who came to Ellis Island fleeing the tyranny of an unforgiving land.
Even with all the suffering and hardship, they believed in the promise of who and what we can be to each other, and what could be made real. Remember that with far fewer resources than what we enjoy, they persevered. We are here because they survived. And let us remember those who in our time died too soon: Trayvon, Sandra, Philando, Eric, Breonna, Ahmaud, George and so many more. We owe them our full measure of devotion.
The Everybody as Our Own Movement is bold, audacious, courageous, elegant, compassionate and ethical. Let’s start the wave and create an Everybody as Our Own nation.
You Are Welcome Here.