Let's talk of graves, of worms and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
-- Shakespeare, Richard II
I would like to live in a world where we don't feel the need to use shock tactics, in art or anywhere else, to talk about oppression based on racial, gender, power, and monetary inequities. I would rather not stare at a mammy sphinx made out of sugar. I would like to sit upon the ground and talk with people about how we've suffered. I want to hear other peoples' stories and to be heard myself. I want there to be space for difference -- I know that I have not dealt with the specific suffering of non-white ethnic groups, of homosexual, bisexual and trans people, of lower middle class, working class people, people living at and below the poverty line. At the same time, I want there to be space for similarity -- according to Theravada Buddhism, we are all "brothers and sisters in suffering." I want to sit down with a group and appreciate that, as people do when they meditate together, as people do when they come together at Shalom retreats and share their biographies.
I want a circle that can be like the earth, which accommodates everyone and everything. If all of us are granted this compassionate zone, maybe we could all apologize to one another, not because we are at fault, but to give each other the apologies that we deserve. If we are willing to suffer together, we can imagine restitution together. I think this collective imagining, outside of any real world outcome, is intrinsically healing. I don't want to be lectured to, yelled at, castigated for what my white ancestors have done, for what they weren't able to see. If that's morality, I would take a cue from some of the hippies and drop out of it. If morality, though, involves hearing one another, caring that we all suffer, and letting ourselves do whatever we need to do when we don't have the space to care about that, I am all for it.