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United We Stand… Divided We Fall….

I’ve gone through so many emotions and had so many realizations over these past few days following the death of George Floyd.  I realized I’ve been naive to the pain and suffering of racism.  I was raised in a home where I was lucky enough to have values instilled in me of equality and acceptance.   I remember my mom telling me that I was never allowed to treat people differently because of the color of their skin.  The song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” was branded in my brain… red and yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.  It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin…we all matter.  We all have value.   I was also raised in a community with so much diversity, so it was imprinted in my brain that we all matter.

I am now realizing that I was sheltered…. naive to what was and is truly going on.  I have heard the cries of some of our students in class and some of the people I coach as they share their pain, fears, and personal stories of how they are treated differently.  I thought I was empathizing yet now know that it was sympathizing.  I couldn’t really empathize because I didn’t know.  I didn’t REALLY see.  And I truly did not understand because I haven’t walked in their shoes.

I am white.…

My role and mission in life are to help people connect to their worth and value, to take a stand, to believe that they matter and to go after their dreams.  To surround themselves with people who are like-minded.    I was jolted… shook to the core and cried and cried and cried as I watch George Floyd saying “I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe”.  I cried as I watched by-standers TAKING A STAND and attacked for their stand.  And I cried as I watched some of the footage of protests and riots taking place.  Seeing videos recorded from people on the front line of the protests tore me up over and over and over again.   My heart is breaking.  There is one particular video where I am watching a man sharing his heart with such passion and in a positive way.  I was getting ready to make a comment and share because I felt like I was listening to a Martin Luther King, Jr. with his “I have a Dream” speech…  and some cops come in and take him away. I was not expecting him to be shut down.   I wept some more.

And then I have moments of hope as I see footage of police officers marching with the people, united and compassionate, tears running down their face.

The words of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” have been rolling around in me:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
and the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

IMAGINE… all the people living life in peace… a brotherhood of man… all the people sharing the world.

I want to live in this world!

One of the news reporters said, in a few days, the white people will go back to their lives and “forget” that this is happening.  We get emotionally charged in a moment, the shock wears off and if WE are not the ones it impacts, we get on with our lives.   I don’t want to “get on with my life.”  This nation was built on freedom.  To be treated equally.  To be treated with respect and dignity.  To know that it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, brown, rich, poor, educated or uneducated, thin, overweight, smart or challenged with learning, whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, agnostic, gay, straight or whatever…. IT DOESN’T MATTER… we are all people.  We were created to be equal; to be loved and to love.  We all want to be seen, to be heard, to know that we have value. To be treasured.  To be treated with dignity and respect.

I believe that if people don’t believe as we believe, or have our same values, or how dare they do something we don’t deem as okay; we attack, we belittle, we make people wrong.  I don’t want to be that type of person.  I want to stand united…. to do my part in making this world a better place; a place of acceptance, love, dignity, hope, and mutual respect.

I’ve been thinking about where I judge.  Where my prejudices lie.  And how I can change it.  I have to be aware, to own my own shit.  To ask forgiveness and shift.  It starts with me and ends with me.  I also know that hurt people, holler and sometimes hurt people.   But it’s so much deeper than what we see on the surface.  The hurt runs deep.  Wounds need to be healed.  Change has to come, not “needs” to come… it HAS to happen.  It is time.  Now. Today.

It’s time to make a change… it’s time to be the change.   Only light will drive out darkness.  Only love dissipates hate.  Only hope alleviates fear.   It’s okay to be sad, to be angry, to be hurt, to want justice, to take a stand.  The part that drives us to do that is because there is something in us that is crying “I want to be seen…. I want to be heard…. I need to know I am worth something, that I have value.”

I am one person.  I may not be able to change this world, yet I can change myself, and when I change myself, I will impact my family, my community, my business, which impacts this world.

I want to stay “WOKE”.  I want to make this world better by my actions, my words… I want to be a presence for someone who is hurting.  It’s not about saying the right things… it’s about doing the right things.

Today, I commit to stay “woke” to my family, neighbors, community, world…

To see you…
To hear you…
To honor you…
To value you…

To do my part in being the change…

United we stand… divided we fall.

Mary Belden-McGrath

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