Those who believe that peace can be defended, and that attack is justified on its behalf, cannot perceive it lies within them. How could they know? Could they accept forgiveness side by side with the belief that murder takes some forms by which their peace is saved? Would they be willing to accept the fact their savage purpose is directed against themselves? – ACIM Chapter 23 The War Against Yourself III.5
Are you looking for visionary thinker advising that you will never solve the problem of racism by being against it? Is your organization willing to implement positive initiatives based on the realization that attack never brings a peaceful outcome? If so, please consider me in your search for a Peacemaker, or perhaps, Inclusion Coordinator, which is what I would suggest you look for instead of an Anti-Racism Specialist.
If not, I wish you well in what I believe will be a largely fruitless effort that adds your organization’s resources to the millions, if not billions, of dollars spent on this problem. The world’s current approach to the issue has been highly unsuccessful, to say the least, and I’m hoping that the “Difference Makers” at Norquest will be willing to look at a different approach, one that speaks of our collective union rather than emphasizing our differences.
And, if not, you might be cautious about who you choose to fill this position despite their impeccable credentials. In his National Post article, “How woke can you go? In 2021, the answer was ‘very’ apparently”, Jonathan Kay notes University of Toronto public-health professor (and former Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table member) David Fisman tweeted in August his startling discovery that a Conservative Party campaign slogan contained exactly 14 words. This, he suggested on Twitter, was a clear arithmetic allusion to a 14-word white supremacist slogan coined by an American white supremacist named David Lane…because why *else* would anybody construct a sentence with 14 words?” Or, how about the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, a body that oversees French schools in southwest Ontario, publicly burning 30 “racist” children’s books and, “using the ashes to fertilize a tree (in a bid to “bury the ashes of racism”). “The outcry was intense,” says Kay, “and the school board admitted that the whole 1930s-style book-bonfire thing had been a mistake.”
The question to ask here is, “How can so many truly sincere individuals and organizations take actions to address an issue that, in many cases, actually lead to the opposite?”
I believe I can answer that question.
My journey, like yours, has been a search for peace in a world gone mad. My paisley shirts, bell-bottom trousers and long hair of the 60s have long since given way to a brush cut that hides my bald spot and comfortable overalls that eliminate a belt cutting into my expanding belly. But significantly, my clothes sport my design of an embroidered heart with a happy face inside a sun at its center. I still believe in love and wear my heart on my sleeve.
I am the visionary thinker with excellent critical thinking skills you seek. I have years of experience working in communications for The University of Calgary and as a weekly and daily reporter in Nanaimo. I have experience working with diverse racialized groups as a community support worker in Prince George and in my current position supporting clients in homeless shelters for Edmonton’s Mustard Seed organization. My 10 years of international teaching saw me work in multi-ethnic/cultural environments in Libya, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, the UAE and Japan.
That’s me on the surface. Dig deeper and you will find someone who’s spent years practicing Transcendental Meditation and completed the advanced training to be a Sidha, which the TM organization claims is the basic unit of world peace. Although no longer an active practitioner, I still admire many of the concepts taught. One that applies to racism is the idea that, “Problems can’t be solved on the level of the problem.” I believe the ignorance and fear that lies at the heart of racism is not alleviated by fighting the darkness, but rather by introducing a new element: the light of love that will foster the knowledge of our unity.
Only love can end racism, and anti-racism, too, by changing the hearts and minds that see the world amiss and not through implementing changes to the external world. Why? Because the outer world we see is a reflection of the inner world in our mind.
We have strayed so far from this fundamental understanding that those who should be counseling peace through introspection have, instead, adopted the self-defeating position of righteous anger couched in the preconditioned demand for justice before peace. You see it everywhere: No justice. No peace. But what exactly does that ensure, except that neither condition will ever be met?
Jesus, in Matthew 6:33 said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” That kingdom, I would argue, is one of peace and love.
Zen Buddhist priest angel Kyodo williams fosters this split mind thinking in her book, “Radical Dharma. Talking race, love and liberation.” The cover illustration visually expresses this mindset as it features a yellow fist at the center of an octagon with the eight trigrams of the I Ching. To me, liberation is not found in a closed fist, but in an open hand and a love so True it sees only Love and nothing else. The same fist image appears inside a yellow heart, in a popular sign titled, “Hate has no home here”, which completely negates the textual message.
The real understanding is this: To be against hate is not the same as being for Love. A simple distinction but a difficult one for those who believe, insanely, that the anger and hurt they feel will be resolved through their expression in attack, instead of finding peace and healing in forgiveness and the true release it provides.
Inside, william’s states on page xxiii of her introduction, “It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the discovery and assertion of Siddhartha Gautama, the historic Buddha – that every human being, irrespective of caste, race, creed or birth has within them the potential for waking up to the ultimate nature of reality – is one of the most radically life-altering propositions for human life on and in relationship to the planet. One that we need right now.”
But, wlliams argues on page xxii there are “inner and outer paths towards liberation” a position I reject. The waking up to the “ultimate nature of reality” that williams references is independent of external circumstance. It is the desire to deny this Truth that allows her to erroneously link love to justice on the same page:
“The terrains are expressed as dichotomies only because we have not completed our work, but we know in our bodies [bodies are not sentient and cannot know] we must one day abide there. Inner and outer. Personal and social. Love and justice. Liberation.”
To me, this is complete misunderstanding of the Buddha’s message. The outer perishable ends in time, while spirit is eternal.
In my continued search, I have studied the teachings of Eckhardt Tolle, Gangaji, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Jesus and many others. I have been particularly struck by the spiritual masterwork, A Course in Miracles, and two supporting volumes, Journey Beyond Words and The Other Voice.
If you choose to hire me for this position, the academic framework and philosophy I propose has peace, unity and forgiveness as its basis. And, it would be those same principles I would refer to in creating toolkits and supported pilots and program reviews. They would also be at the heart of developing or enhancing instructional strategies with an inclusion focused lens. And, I’d be delighted to provide professional development for faculty and people leaders, which I’m sure would lead to stimulating, enlivening and enlightening discussions.
But most significantly, with Norquest’s support, and perhaps the involvement of other organizations also committed to ameliorating racism, I’d like to see the creation of a public awareness campaign and counseling program to heal those that hate. At the core of this program would be the understanding that changing minds is found in inclusion and love, and not through attack and judgement.
Can you imagine a city with a coordinated, measurable program dedicated to a message of love and inclusion? I can, with billboards, posters, events and other initiatives based on positive ideas, like:
Maybe we all need to study genialology.
The world is healed by a mind that observes it with love.
Let’s allow love’s light to shine, rather than setting preconditions, which only serve to keep us in the dark.
How happy can you stand it?
This principle of inclusive love was taught by Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount starting at Matthew 5:43.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
A Sikhs for Humanity Edmonton pamphlet mirrors these concepts. “When, one stops labelling others as untouchables, low-caste, sinners or atheists, because then one realizes that no one can be labelled as sinner or virtuous; and don’t label others as wise or foolish. By this, one understands the religion of good deeds, by becoming unbiased, unattached and free of hatred, thus establishing loving and friendly relationships with everyone without any malice.”
The manifestation of a peaceful world is a passion for me. I currently study weekly with a Seventh Day Adventist pastor and a former Muslim Chaplain at the University of Alberta, discussing principles of salvation and healing, to name just two. I realize the approach I’m proposing is novel and my goal at this point is to secure an interview. If you do decide to grant me that opportunity, I would be pleased to present my PowerPoint presentation, The Object of Man’s Creation, delivered at the World Religions Conference in Prince George on September 28, 2019. It details my approach to solving the world’s problems, including racism. I note that the WRC’s 2021 conference theme was Racism, so this is clearly a topic of current interest. I was disappointed to see the image used on the WRC website features fists behind the words “Combatting RACISM”, which is again, in my opinion, the wrong image and message.
As a practicing artist and educator, I believe I demonstrate a knowledge of anti-racist education, curriculum development, and anti-oppressive pedagogy. My belief we are all connected is at the core of my approach to being alive and a common thread found in my work, whether it be in Bombus Terrestris, a visual pun with a bee at the center representing our eternal Being; or in my Happy Face Series; or in, Teach Only Love.
I also believe I have an understanding and knowledge of race and racism, anti-oppression, anti-racism and discrimination and its impacts on targeted individuals and communities. This is why I have approached The National Film Board, The Canada Media Fund, The Documentary Channel, The Passionate Eye and others with my script, Assholes Another Theory, offering an alternative viewpoint to the beatings, imprisonment and reeducation camps proposed for assholes by Harvard educated philosophy professor, Aaron James, in his book Assholes A Theory and supported in the documentary film of the same name by John Walker. This is just another example of how hatred and attack are advanced as a viable approach by many in positions of intellectual respect and authority. My message is the opposite. I believe attacking those you believe are consumed with hatred is never justified, it simply compounds the problem instead of solving it.
Much closer to home, Calgary’s Mount Royal University, in January, fired tenured professor Frances Widdowson who, according to a CBC article “made headlines in 2020 for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and espousing the educational benefits of residential schools”. More than 6,000 people signed a petition to have her removed. In a statement explaining Widdowson’s release, MRU noted that while, “it is committed to fostering expression and free speech, and strives to be a model for allowing opposing viewpoints to coexist” that freedom “does not justify harassment or discrimination” which, it must be concluded, they judged Widdowson’s actions to be. Could one reasonably argue that MRU is harassing and discriminating against Widdowson?
My research on this subject led me to Peter Best’s review of Residential School “survivor” Tomson Highway’s book, “Permanent Astonishment” posted on website for The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, of which Widdowson is a Senior Fellow. Best says Highway has been criticized by “Indigenous and media elites for his apostacy in saying that some good things came out of residential schools.”
“Nine of the happiest years of my life were spent at that school…You may have heard stories from 7000 witnesses that were negative. But what you haven’t heard are the 7000 stories that were positive stories. There are very many successful people today that went to those schools and have brilliant careers and are very functional people like myself. I have a thriving international career, and it wouldn’t have happened without that school. You have to remember that I came from so far north and there were no schools there.”
Best calls the book a “work of transcendental, universalist power” and concludes one paragraph by saying the book “lifts the reader out of his getting and spending reality and takes him to a better place- the human soul-enriching world where the truth that all humanity is an interconnected whole is realized and felt.”
Best also write, “Tomson Highway and Permanent Astonishment possess the inherent sweetness to stop the poisonous leak of useless bitterness, divisive demands and false accusations against their fellow Canadians that continually emanate from Canada’s Indigenous elites, and which are shamefully acquiesced in by our non-Indigenous elites.”
This is one book I want to read and, given the resources, Highway is one speaker I’d like to invite to Norquest.
Best also quotes the “two-spirited Welsh writer, Jan Morris, born James Morris, who experienced all manner of human dysfunction in his/her long life” from her book Thinking Again:
Worst of all (the problems of the world) though, has been the way humanity has turned upon itself…We have no certainties anymore, no heroes to trust, no Way (in mystic capital letters) and no Destination. But perhaps you will forgive me, if I propagate an old thesis of my own once more. It is this: that the simplest and easiest of virtues, Kindness, can offer all of us not only a Way through the imbroglio, but a Destination too.
The last two paragraphs Best’s review close on a hopeful note and one that I hope you will help me endorse through engaging me for the position you have created at Norquest.
“The kind, tolerant, forgiving, forward-looking, and celebratory Permanent Astonishment shows not only a Way through the Indigenous-non-Indigenous imbroglio bedevilling Canada today, but it shows that a united, race-free Destination is possible.
Mr. Highway writes that he is dedicating his life to dismantling “that hateful, destructive two-gender structure that arrived on our continent in 1492.” But if the old social rigidities around sexuality and gender identification should be loosened, shouldn’t the old social, political, and legal rigidities around race in Canada be loosened as well? Shouldn’t “race” become equally irrelevant? Permanent Astonishment suggests an affirmative answer to that important question.”
Returning to Canada in 2012, I relocated to Prince George, BC and launched my I launched my WordPress website to highlight my creative abilities in writing, photography, art, music and video production. I use my website, blog and twitter account to promote my work and ideas. My music video set to my song, Brand New Song, is a musical call to making this a better world.
I believe my: experience supporting the communications efforts of a variety of organizations; teaching background and my spiritual approach to life, combine to make me an ideal candidate for this position. It would be an honor and a privilege to work with the “Difference Makers” at Norquest in creating materials fostering peace locally that would reverberate into the world entire. I hope we can meet to discuss that possibility.
I realize that I have gone on at some length in detailing and supporting my approach to racism. The reason for that is that when we become convinced that there is only one solution to a problem, alternate concepts are sometimes dismissed out of hand. The alternative I offer to the one at the forefront of current public thinking will take some courage on the part of the “Difference Makers” at Norquest to adopt, should you choose to do so, and I wanted to emphasize that I am not alone in promoting it. I sincerely believe it is the only approach that will be effective. To repeat, stated in its simplest form, that approach is:
Anti-racism will not end racism. Love will.