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Thread: A Spiritual Appreciation of Nighttimer's Baldwin Quotes (moved from P&CE Thread "The Loathing")

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  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW MRFAndover's Avatar
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    A Spiritual Appreciation of Nighttimer's Baldwin Quotes (moved from P&CE Thread "The Loathing")

    Quote Originally Posted by nighttimer View Post
    “All you are ever told in this country about being black is that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be. Now, in order to survive this, you have to really dig down into yourself and recreate yourself, really, according to no image which yet exists in America. You have to impose, in face — this may sound very strange — you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.”
    ~ James Baldwin
    Night, I know that Baldwin was talking specifically about the experience of Black people in America. But I think he is also speaking a universal truth.

    I don't mean this as a kind of cultural appropriation or some kind of statement that I identify with the experience of Black people in America. I'm a woman, and a Jew, and a person who is trying to wake up and stay awake in the Buddhist way, not necessarily consistently in that order, and that's how I identify. At the same time my experience has been everything that Baldwin says.

    I think it is also true that I have to decide who I am and force myself to deal with me, not my idea of me.

    It's too important not to say this. And I have to reflect on the truth that if this truth is difficult for me, it's 100 times more difficult for Black Americans, other People of Color, and other minority groups like people in the GLBTQ+ community.

    We Jews are getting ready for the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. In the synagogue, the shofar, a ram's horn that is somehow made to perform like a trumpet, is being blown. It says: wake up, wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!

    I'm so sad at the moment, because I had written this whole essay sort of thing that explained what I mean by wake up. I was going to cut it out of here because an essay isn't conversation at all, and I was going to do it as a blog post on Medium. And then my browser crashed, and now it's all gone. I'm sad.

    But the point I was aiming for is that from a Jewish perspective we human beings are supposed to be engaged in this process of repairing the world. You can't repair the world until you first decide who you are and force yourself to deal with yourself, not your idea of yourself. But that's not enough. To repair the world, you need to take the next step and force yourself to deal with every human being you meet as who they know themselves to be, not your idea of who they are.

    Maybe this is just the Buddhist concept of radical acceptance of other human beings. I don't know. It feels like Martin Buber's I-Thou relationship. It feels like Namaste: I bow to the divine in you. It feels like Siri Kirpal's traditional Sikh greeting. (I'm not quoting it because I'll remember it wrong.) It feels like what I think Agape is supposed to mean.

    At any rate, Nighttimer, thank you for that Baldwin quote.

  2. #2
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Yes, it's hard to have true compassion for others if we have no compassion for ourselves. It's hard to empower others if we are cooped up in powerlessness. It's hard to speak truth to power if we can't be true to what we are.

    Oh, and WESTERN Sikhs use SAT NAM as a greeting. Other Sikhs just use it as one of the many ways of referring to G-O-D and as a mantra.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  3. #3
    Nurture Phoenixes AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    MOD NOTE:

    Mi Oh. If you can get the essay down to a couple of pages feel free to post it here. We've had many threads started by member introspections.
    Remembering Humans. Practicing Humanity.




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  4. #4
    I've seen worse. SuperModerator ColoradoGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    MOD NOTE:

    Mi Oh. If you can get the essay down to a couple of pages feel free to post it here. We've had many threads started by member introspections.
    Indeed. Those can be fascinating discussions.
    "Think this through with me, let me know your mind.
    . . . what I want to know is, are you kind?"

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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW MRFAndover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    MOD NOTE:

    Mi Oh. If you can get the essay down to a couple of pages feel free to post it here. We've had many threads started by member introspections.
    The problem, of course, is that the writing was all in the AWC quick reply editor. I was not thinking about anything else except the writing, so I didn't copy-and-paste it into a document that was savable. When my browser crashed and I restarted it, the editor pane opened blank. Often (usually?), it opens with the text I had been writing miraculously there. I know the editor auto-saves, but where does it auto-save to???? I couldn't find anything saved in various temp files or caches that I checked.

    At any rate, the essay is gone. Most of the time when I'm in that state and lose the writing to a snafu, I can't recreate it. I can write something new, but never the thing that had been written. Sometimes the new thing feels like it's better. The feeling I have about this essay is that it was unique, and I just need to accept that it's gone.

    What I posted above was what I had saved from the original P &CE post. I was going to add it to this essay I've been working on called "Forty Years (Arbaim Shanaim)," which is why I had saved it.

    Thanks, both of you, for your encouragement! The next time I find that I'm in that state, I'll be sure to copy what I'm doing into Word to save and finish it.

    One thing I've learned is that writing to someone in particular really influences how I write and how easily I write. It's a lot like the way a folk musician might pick a person in different areas of the audience to sing directly to.

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