In one of the hundreds of treasured conversations I’ve been blessed to have with Pauline Tangiora, the subject of us all being “one people” came up. I don’t remember the context or who shared that very common vision, but Pauline, in her gentle but stern way, disagreed.
We are in fact not all one people, she said. We are diverse. We are unique. We have different languages, rituals, rites of passage, ceremonies, and histories.
For many communities of color, including Indigenous Peoples, those histories carry hundreds of years of pain, generational and historical trauma, and inequalities that persist today. They are in fact passed on from generation to generation – if they are not healed.
It’s not just the victim that needs healing but the perpetrator as well. Unless the cycle is broken, we will continue to experience the outward manifestation of loss, pain, and suffering.
Here in the US, we are watching this unfold in real-time, in every city across the country.
Many of us don’t understand. We have no words. We don’t know how to respond. We don’t know how to be an advocate. That uncertainty is valid. If you have not lived it, how could you know what that experience is like?
But we have to start somewhere and we must start now. We need to ask questions, respectfully, ev
en if they are a bit clumsy. We need to listen to the answers without judgment. We need to put aside our fear of “the other” and start to see the lens through which others must navigate their reality. Every. Single. Day.
As the pandemic brought our world to a standstill, we started to look for the answers to the questions that were inside us, perhaps overshadowed by the noise of daily life: how can we live a life of purpose, as good stewards of our planet, in service to each other and all living beings?
We looked to our Indigenous sisters and brothers who embody this way of living and have urged us for years to wake up from our slumber before it’s too late.
Now, our Black sisters and brothers, need us to wake up.
Just like the many thousands of social benefit organizations in this country, we are asked to do what governments and businesses can’t or won’t do. That is, take care of the most vulnerable among us. And we do it because we want to be in service, for the greater good.
We have to come together and listen. Be humbled. Be quiet. Be present. Change can only happen when the status quo is disrupted. We need each other now more than ever.
We join the millions of voices rising up, speaking out, and standing in solidarity. This is an opportunity for us to set the course of our humanity to one that embraces our diversity, creates a more sacred way of living for all beings, and brings balance. And yes, peace, to a world yearning for us to uplift and support each other in order to heal hearts and minds.
Though we have kept inclusivity and diversity at front-of-mind when recruiting, we can do better. We are committed to diversify our board as we bring on new board members. As the organization grows and our staff expands, we will look for people of color to bring different and important perspectives to our work.
Executive Director, Sacred Fire Foundation