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Aligning Being Black, Spiritual, and American in These Times

BY Mohamed Ali Bouraima        June 4, 2020

This article reflects my thoughts on the death of George Floyd and countless other beautiful black people, and the anger and protests that it spawns.

As a black man, it’s always really hard to watch another black person being murdered, but it is equally, if not more, difficult to successfully express the emotion that comes with it.

If you stay silent, you are considered a traitor. Not that anyone would say that to your face, but you can just feel it in your bones. It feels wrong!

And when you try to talk about it, it’s hard to find words (rational, effortless, simple and explicable words) other than anger, to describe what you’re feeling.

As a spiritual black person, it’s even harder to talk about these things.

When you do talk about them, you sound like you are withdrawing yourself from our perceived reality, and the excruciating pain that comes with it. It’s probably why a lot of spiritual people refrain from engaging in this kind of discourse. But I think it’s important for US to voice our opinions from a point-of-view and understanding that is the experience of being human. 

And you can do so, while remaining in and bathing in the ineffable love of the universe.

I know this is no time to engage in spiritual-gibberish-peace and love garbage. I spent the last few days trying to come up with the perfect post and the right words to express my opinion. 

I found those words today in a book that I’m reading.

The story takes place in ancient India, when Alexander the Great had just arrived and tried to (thankfully unsuccessfully) invade the country. Alexander sent his messenger Onesicritus to fetch an Indian teacher named Dandamis.

Dandamis, a great yogi, refused to go. In a long and afront speech (completely new to Alexander, as nobody ever had the courage to insult him), he said these words:

“For the groans of the oppressed, become the punishment of the oppressor.”

And this is how I feel today. It’s hard for me to explain this phrase literally, but what I do know and want to share is that everything is going to be ok. That’s how I interpret the essence of Dandamis’ words: If you are the oppressor today, you’ll be the oppressed eventually. It’s happening as we speak.

Eventually, whether or not it happens in our physical lifetime, the human race will wake up to its true reality that we are all one. There’s no race, no color, no gender, social status, religion, nothing in our physical world, that separate us. We’re all equal and the same.

There’s no wrong way to grieve or to express frustration. However, there’s a healthy way to deal with it.

It is not to say that those experiencing pain, anger, frustration or hatred should or need to express their feelings differently. This is a mere effort to offer a different approach to a problem that just won’t go away.

It’s important for us to go beyond the anger and how it is currently being manifested, and make long-term, necessary actions that will efficiently bring the change that we so badly need. Again, protesting can be a way to do it. They prompted change for causes like slavery, women’s rights, and so many more.

I want to invite all of you, activists or the people who are just fed up with everything, to go deeper in order to see how to effectively make an impact.

In my humble opinion, the change that we wish to see will not happen until every human is represented in these high places. If you’re not into politics or don’t vote, you are still appreciated and can help in other ways, through art perhaps (if you’re an artist) or through simple acts of service.

We’re still in a pandemic, and many families, especially people of color, cannot make ends meet. Many have lost their jobs and sources of income. If you can, help. And it can be something as simple as checking on your friends or even offering a smile to a stranger.

These are confusing times. Even if you’re just uncomfortable with what’s happening, you’re doing good. Being uncomfortable with a situation is always a point of start for real progress. The universe hears you.

Before I leave, I want to offer my condolences to the families of the deceased. There’s nothing that can compare to the loss of a loved one. I hope you find peace and happiness again, as I’m sure your child/parent/sibling/partner/friend would want you to.

To my black brothers and sisters, I want to tell you that it gets better, it always does. We’ve survived the most cruel things and we’re still here. We will survive this as well. There’s a reason why we were built to be resilient. There’s hope, and you must not give up.

To our allies, thank you. Thank you for being already on the path of enlightenment. Thank you, because it takes courage to go after a system that benefits you the most. There’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, and it is amazing to want to share your “privilege,” especially when for you that can mean going against your families and friends who might not share the same views. Thank you.

Be safe out there. Namaste!

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Mohamed Ali Bouraima

Mohamed Ali Bouraima is a writer, screenwriter and actor with a passion for storytelling and meditation. He writes everything from comedy sketches to movies and TV shows to novels and children’s books. When he is not writing or traveling the world and experiencing new cultures, Mohamed runs a non-profit that sends underprivileged west African kids to school. He speaks many languages, including French, his native language. 

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