The past few months, I’ve been traveling—across datelines, religious and spiritual lines, continents, states, languages, and cultural traditions. It is a profound gift to learn from others and see, that while our language, geo-political history might shape difference, no matter where I have been in the world: mothers nurture their children, elders pass wisdom to the young, fathers and mothers worry about providing, farmers sow seeds and harvest crops, spiritual and religious practices bind communities together. Whether tethered by bloodlines or intentional familial constructs, we are all part of a dynamic, interdependent, global kinship. It is extraordinary to meditate on the fact that my/our human family extends across datelines, continents, states, and traditions. In this spirit, consider, these two brief stories below and ask yourself Is Our Family Doing Well?
Story 1: I met a Vietnam Veteran. Living in a remote, sparse community in a humble home, I sat on this warrior’s couch as our light chat turned to the honor of his service, and in my opinion, the disgrace of his care. Is our family doing well when 40+ years since the end of his service to his country, he is unable to get the medical/ psychological care he deserves or the disability designation his shattered body warrants? He battles demons that I can’t began to fathom. Battling to be recognized as family, worthy of the greatest care, by his government to address unresolved, untreated medical issues that have wreaked mental and physical destruction. Denied access to his medical records because of the nature of the service his government asked of him. “The government is waiting for me to die,” he shared. “So it doesn’t have to provide my medical records.” His Vietnam-era medical records, critical to helping medical professionals treat him today, are classified-restricted for 50 years. In another three years, he might have access…if he is still alive. How is our family doing? I didn’t know him before being welcomed into his house. But he is my family—our shared military service makes it so.
Story 2: “Are you a United States Citizen?” Six California Border Patrol officers inquired of the two Caucasian young people. Lined up outside the bus in the early morning sun. The dark green Border Patrol uniforms and brilliant gold badges seemed oddly misplaced for a bus full of youngsters. Twelve young people lined up, backs against the bus—criminals? No. Young people on vacation. The brown skin of the elementary, middle, and high school-aged children the cause for the stop and search. Is our family doing well when children are questioned about their birth place? Six California Border Patrol officers and a canine dog, just doing their jobs, walked the line of children asking each one, “Where were you born?” Each child quietly, calmly responding. Is our family doing well when the fervor of who deserves to be in this country translates into a bus of children being questioned by Border Patrol officers? Are we extending the same conscious, loving care to EVERY member of our global family—regardless of language, culture, skin-color, gender, socio-economic circumstances?
As most of my readers know, my writings are typically focused on uplifting, positive messages. I was deeply struck by both of these situations. To allow a Vietnam Veteran to languish without proper care and no disability resources (the profound nature of his battle injuries renders him unable to work) is unconscionable if he is JUST thought of as a number by his local Department of Veterans Affairs office/hospital—and not a member of our extended family. To stop, line up, and question brown-skinned children about the country of their birth is unconscionable if they are thought of as “illegal aliens” (I intentional used this prerogative phrase) and not important members of our family.
So what is my purpose in this piece? Consciousness raising, first. Action, second. People from all over the world read my blog. These two stories or similar happen in Russia, Senegal, Turkey, Dallas, TX, Egypt, or Switzerland. What action can you take today to ensure a veteran gets the care she/he deserves and needs? From your influential position as a member of the human family, how can you ensure that all people are treated with respect and dignity? My hope is that when each of you sits at the end of your day or week, you can respond to the question Is Our Family Doing Well affirmatively by saying, “Yes, today I ensured that I saw a person who is different than I am as a member of my family, and I used my influence to ensure that she/he was cared for as I would care for familial blood.
Peace & Blessings ~
Check out my inspiring photos www.rhythmsuniversal.smugmug.com