Digging Deeper to Uncover Hidden Truths

The path to living in alignment with one’s purpose can be a very complex journey. Filled with layers and nuances that connect to long legacies rooted in our collective histories as a species/society, and our own personal narratives. The spaces in which they meet, is part of the dance. A dance between pain and joy that gives us clues about our true purpose. It provides the enriching textures that can drive us or sometimes tear us down, so that we have something to overcome and stand in our resilience, grow, and expand and evolve ourselves and our societies to the next stage.
To demonstrate this, I would like to share with you how this plays out in my own life.

6 years ago, I was disowned by my father for dating a Black person. It was a world shattering experience to come so close and face to face with the ways in which anti-black racism takes up space in my intimate relationships. A legacy left behind by colonial history rooted in the enslavement of Black people, the ensuing generational trauma, violence, oppressions, and the resulting stigma through which current day racism against Black people lives on was playing out, right in front of my face and inside my heart. Range point blank.

Earlier this month (February 2016) during a casual conversation an idea was spawned. My long standing struggle came to a boiling point of sorts. I felt an urgency to have conversations about how to address Anti-Black Racism in the Asian Community. I think the fact that it was Black History Month added to this feeling of urgency. I was asking myself, what am I doing to truly stand in solidarity with Black People to evolve us beyond the injustices that continue to happen? I felt I needed to do more. I needed to have this conversation.

I made a decision, right then and there at that cafe 3 weeks ago. I picked a time and a date, no budget, no space, with very little capacity to carry out a large action, and a non-negotiable feeling that I had to do something, NOW.

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What ensued was nothing short of a miracle. It’s as if all of the cooperative components of the universe aligned to make things happen in just the right way.

That night, I posted a Facebook event calling for this conversation. It was called “Asian Allies Conversation: Addressing Anti-Black Racism in the Asian Community”.  All I was hoping for was about 10 people to sit in a room, in a circle and have this conversation, casually but strategically… And then, it exploded. People were responding in numbers and with an upsurgence of energy that I had never experienced before. People really, REALLY wanted to have this conversation.

The idea grew, within 24 hours there were 50-60 people clicked that they wanted to attend the event, my inbox filled up with responses with people offering to help organize, donate space, time, and capacity. A working group formed. All of the resources and plans came together easily, swiftly, quickly. It became a full-on production.

Yesterday we hosted the event, with tremendous success. And by the end of it a committee of around 10 people (who were not part of the original committee) signed up to carry the work forward for the next conversation. It grew a life of its own.
This experience made me think back to all of those teachings that I had come to hold dear to my heart, that tell us when you are aligned with your true purpose, have faith and take action, the universe will conspire to help you make your dreams come true. It happened, in real time, no bullshit.

Not only this, I grew. Immensely. Within myself, throughout the conversation yesterday. As I delved deeper than I ever had before to really unpack all the ways I benefit from Black Culture, Blackness, and even Anti-Black Racism. I realized how much almost every aspect of my life that is near and dear to me, have been influenced by or benefitted from Black Culture and/or Anti-Black Racism in some way. Whoa.

I did a mind map. Albeit its incomplete, because there is much much more to this that I didn’t have the space to fit in the 10 minutes that we did in this activity. But I wanted to share it, incase it may help others begin this conversation internally as well…

mindmap
So the questions still remain, what does it really mean to be an Asian Ally to dismantling Anti-Black Racism? How do we have these conversations with our families, friends and community members that perpetuate Anti-Black Racism? I still don’t have any final answers. But I do have a better and deeper understanding of the importance of acknowledging how those of us who are not Black benefit from Anti-Black Racism, and a firm knowing that is definitely a part of the way forward. Yes its uncomfortable, but its necessary. We need to have more honest conversations. And I know now, without a shadow of a doubt, that part of my purpose here on this earth is to help instigate some of these uncomfortable conversations, to help us to evolve collectively, in solidarity.

This experience showed me, and affirmed to me that I am indeed on the right path, in alignment with my purpose.

Thank you to all those who made this possible, I am so grateful and inspired by you all. Thank you especially to the countless Black and Indigenous people who have struggled in this fight for justice long before I came into this conversation or was even born. You paved the path for this conversation and we owe our progress to the groundwork you laid, and our work stands on your shoulders. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

workshop2

If you find yourself interested and wanting to unpack further this conversation about Addressing Anti-Black Racism in the Asian Community, you can follow (and contribute to) some of the Conversation online, on Twitter under the hashtag #AsianAlliesConvo or check out the event page which holds sooo many resources connected to this conversation. https://www.facebook.com/events/558493404313946/ and here’s a new FB group where people can continue the conversation moving forward https://www.facebook.com/groups/1519742294997916/

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Education and Purpose: A Conversation in Transformative Education

 

As Published in – Reimagining: Reigning in the New Skool Magazine
(click image below to the read full magazine)

reimagning new skoolTwo questions come to mind when approaching the topic of transformative education. What is the purpose of education? And what is the role of Purpose in education?

Addressing the first question, we face the reality that the primary role of the current system of education in Canada is to train young people to become participants within the economic system. As Grace Lee Boggs says, like cogs in a machine.[1]

Students are categorized into rankings based on their performance on an endless number of standardized tests. High performing students are placed in ‘academic’ classes, and if they can afford it, typically find their way to university. Here they often choose fields of study that they expect will get them a ‘good job’, as understood by parents and society – typically defined by the level of salary and social status it’s associated with; also termed the ‘professional’ field e.g. doctor, lawyer, accountant. The students who are identified as being low performing on these tests are often placed in ‘applied’ streams, gearing them towards the workforce rather than Post-Secondary education. But again, the ideal is to find a ‘good job’ that will gain them a steady income, and job security, or at the very least something to cover their monthly expenses once they are out of school.

Both options have a clear outcome: prepare young people to become participants of the economic system.

Some racialized students, especially young black men, instead of experiencing either of the above, are being funnelled into the school-to-prison pipeline. The depth of this experience is outside of the scope of this article; however it’s important to mention that racialized students have the additional challenge of navigating through an education system that is still largely Eurocentric and lacking in cultural relevancy. This causes disengagement in students, as a great portion of the curriculum is irrelevant to their lived experiences and cultures.

For many racialized families, the purpose of education is to learn how to conform and succeed within a world of white normalcy. The education system is an entry point into becoming an active participant in the economic system ruled also by white normalcy and privilege. (Get the “right” job, and try to blend in.)

Our youth are inheriting an Earth that has been severely damaged by generations upon generations of violence, destruction, war, genocide, and abuse on physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, political, social, and environmental levels.

This destruction of the planet, and our violence upon each other is a reflection of the destruction and violence that exists inside each of us. It’s a legacy, which we have inherited from generations of hate carried on by blind following, and fueled by ignorance.

The outer world is a macrocosm of our inner worlds, and vice versa. Like mirrors, facing one another, the closer you get to the centre, the deeper it goes. Like fractal patterns, in each individual part is the essence of the whole.[2] The amount of unconsciousness that is, and has been, running rampant in the world, is a reflection of our own inner unconsciousness.

Many of us spend much of our youth and adult years feeling that we are not being heard or seen. That what we have to say doesn’t matter. This teaches us to not trust ourselves; that we are wrong in some way. This internalized self-doubt turns into self-hate, to the point where we grow to doubt our own true worth. This feeling of un-worthiness becomes subconscious and all-pervasive, and eventually, destructive.

Internalized self-hate is an epidemic. Deep feelings of un-worthiness develop into self-destructive behaviors when we are unconscious of our inner workings. The uncomfortable truth is that we have forgotten how to love ourselves. Shamed into discounting our inner truths, we have become disconnected from ourselves, forgetting who we are.

Our capitalist society and school systems create further disconnection by promoting competition between individuals as opposed to collective cooperation. This adds to feelings of isolation, and sets the stage for the violence felt on the inner level to become projected manifestations of violence on the outer level. Although an in-depth exploration of this is outside of the scope of this article, it points to a narrative around mental health, which is missing in our current education system.

We need to wake up out of unconsciousness and move into awareness. Our education systems can be the conduit for this work. Through education people can learn, evolve – but our education system also needs to evolve to accommodate for the much needed change.

This brings us to the second question: what is the role of Purpose in education? In other words, what is the role of the education system in helping young people find purpose in their lives? What is the role of the education system in terms of teaching young people about knowledge of self, your own personal purpose, your passion, and true fulfillment in life?

Wouldn’t it be poignant, given the kind of world that our youth are inheriting at this particular point in time, if the purpose of education was to instill our youth with a sense of Purpose, to help them create change for a future generation?

How do we make that happen? What needs to shift in terms of the purpose of education?

Education needs to be less of a vehicle for streamlining young people into the economic system, and more of a vehicle for inspiring young minds and hearts, expanding their awareness into themselves and out to the world around them, helping them to deepen into their sense of purpose.

Unfortunately our current education system is slow to change. It is built on a model of rigid bureaucracy with roots in the 18th century. It is archaic, and steeped in ways of knowing that lack the flexibility required to adequately meet the needs of evolving generations.

What we need instead is an education system that is inclusive of narratives relevant to the context of youth here and now. We need a curriculum that provides engaging ways for students to interact in meaningful ways with their own knowledge of self, and avenues to understand the many ways that the self interacts with broader society in its complexities, intersectionalities, and layers. Connecting the Micro to the Macro.

This can be achieved through creative inner self-reflection and expression, combined with innovative, engaging narratives of history from culturally relevant contexts.

Our school system needs a pedagogy that provides a holistic view on the human experience. Understanding that a whole human is a combination of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And spiritual meant not as religion, but a personal sense of being interconnected with all.

Holistic human education should also include teachings that shed light on the importance of individual healing, as a necessary step in the journey of the collective healing of human society; as well as the significance of being grounded in the present moment. This reinforces the importance of the deep inter-connectedness of the relationship between the micro and the macro, and the here and now.

How can we start making these transformations in the education system on a practical level?

Art. Through art.

Ken Robinson describes art as a vehicle for feeling fully alive, meanwhile our education system tends to shut our youth down and put them to sleep.[3] Through art, there is an incredible opportunity to engage young people in meaningful explorations of self, of notions like purpose, and voice.

Arts-based education has proven to be an effective and accessible tool, which provides an important entry point for transforming education. In Toronto over the past decade there has been an upsurgence of arts-based education initiatives that is transforming the experience of education for young people.

Grassroots organizations like Lost Lyrics use arts-based education to build a bridge between the streets and the classroom. [4] Institutions like the Royal Conservatory of Music pair artist educators with classroom teachers to teach curricular materials in school through the arts with their Learning Through the Arts program. Educators all over Canada have begun to use artistic mediums such as poetry, photography, media arts, dance, movement, music, theatre, visual arts, etc. to engage learners in critical dialogue about social issues, history, philosophy, even sciences and math. Culturally relevant pedagogies within arts-based education include using Hip-Hop Culture as a tool to engage young people in critical dialogue, a movement popularly termed HipHop Education or HipHopEd.[5]

Over the past nine years, in my own arts education practice I have focused on using Spoken Word Poetry as a tool for engaging young people in explorations of Identity and Social Constructs and Social Justice. My practice centers around guiding young people to create spoken word poetry based on a system called the ICT – Identify, Connect, and Take a Stand. I will briefly explain this process below.

Identify

First, students are given the freedom to identify a topic that is based on either an element of their own personal identity (race, gender, family, being a student, etc) or a social issue that they care about.

Connect

There are two levels of connection: (1) Micro: Connecting their chosen topic to their own personal lives and narratives (day-to-day personal experiences). (2) Macro: Connecting their topic to wider social contexts (history, politics, social issues, social justice, social norms and patterns, etc).

Take a Stand

The final step is to make a declaration about your topic, and voice your truth.

With this simple formula, paired with guidance around the technical elements and historical context of the art form of Spoken Word poetry, students are assigned to each create their own Spoken Word poem.

The results over the years have been astounding. I have witnessed hundreds of youth, when given the opportunity to express their deeper truths, take the dive and come out transformed.

Such an experience provides a platform for youth to be heard and witnessed in their truths in a way that is rare within educational spaces. It creates a feeling of community and closeness within the classroom, building camaraderie between classmates, feelings of validation, moments of healing, deep self-reflection, and authentic emotional release

Some students have said that the assignment of exploring the question of identity in connection to wider social issues through spoken word poetry has helped them to connect much more deeply to their own sense of personal purpose, even more so than an entire year in Careers class.[6]

These moments highlight the potential of using the arts to bring much needed transformation to our education system. Arts-based education is an opportunity to transform our education system to incorporate meaningful exploration of self, purpose, and change.

We need more meaningful collaborations between artists and teachers, which is one step towards a much deeper journey of transforming the core values of our education system.

At the core, what we really need is a holistic revamping of the purpose of education, and an integration of the whole human into the educational experience. Art is, and can be, a powerful conduit for this change.

We need to move past a system of education that is preoccupied with intellectualizing, memorizing and regurgitating facts presented by a narrow view of the past. Instead of pressuring our young people to find a place to become a complacent participant in an economic system that is failing, we need to move education more firmly into a place of grounding in the present moment to help prepare our young people for the future; and inspire them to become agents of much needed change.

The youth are the future. We need an education system that will give them the skills to create a world that is healthier than the one we inherited. This means a shift in paradigm, of priority, a shift in the purpose of education to include the exploration of our inner true purpose in the experience of education.

Some may say that this is too tall of an order for our schools, or that it’s a job for the parents. But why shouldn’t our schools be the place to help young people understand who they are? Teaching them not only how to think but how to know. How to feel alive. How to find and pursue true happiness, fulfillment, balance in life, inner peace.

Our world is at a very critical point in time. It is time to wake up. It is time to evolve. Change is necessary for our collective survival as a species. It is within the self that we must first learn to face these truths, and it is also within the self that we must address them. Our schools have the potential to become spaces of critical self-reflection, innovation, and incubators of collective transformation. The time to transform the purpose of education is now. The future of our youth and the fate of countless generations that will follow depend on it.

© 2015 The Real Sun

(click here to download article PDF in its original published layout as featured in the magazine)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Real Sun is an artist and educator with a deep dedication to social justice and healing. She has been teaching for 9 years combining arts based education, in particular spoken word poetry, with explorations of identity, social constructs, and critical analysis. The Real Sun is trained in the field of integrated healing practices including psychotherapy, bio-energetic therapy, and energy healing. As a poet, singer/songwriter, and musician she expresses her creativity through spoken word and acoustic soul music.

Art, Education, Healing, Social Justice are the pillars and foundation of everything The Real Sun does, is, and creates. She views each one of these elements as necessary components for creating positive and sustainable social change. The Real Sun is a resident of the Jane-Finch community in Toronto, and was originally born in Anyang, Korea.

 

Endnotes:

[1] Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (Berkeley: University of California Press)

[2] “Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds,” Documentary. <http://www.innerworldsmovie.com&gt;

[3] “Changing Education Paradigms,” Lecture by Ken Robinson, <http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U&gt;

[4] http://www.LostLyrics.ca

[5] Example of Hip-Hop Education initiatives in Toronto: Remix to Re-Education: A Hip-Hop Curriculum Resource Guide for Educators with Social Justice Activities, Don’t Believe the Hype, UNITY Charity, #HipHopEd #HipHopEdTO

[6] Evaluative feedback from Grade 10 Students at University of Toronto Schools in December 2014 after an 8-session unit on Spoken Word Poetry in connection to Identity and Social Constructs, using the ICT format.

The Next American Revolution – A Tribute to Grace Lee Boggs – (reconnecting with nature, art, and our human-ness)

I am a Revolutionary. I raise my fist on a daily to show solidarity. And though there is nothing romantic about bloodshed. There is honour in standing up for what you believe in. We are part of a generation that is being called upon to shift the world toward new beginnings, to mend the damage that has been done by those who came before us, who have shaped the world we were born into. It is our turn to do the shaping. And the time, is now. Revolution is evolving, and we, this generation, must empower ourselves to overstand that we are catalysts for real and meaningful change.

I believe a part of this, is about re-discovering our roots, remembering and re-member-ing the parts of us that have been lost. To put value before cost. Learning how to put community over the individual, nature over economy, sustainability over profit, heart over head. These are the shifts that we need to make, first within ourselves and then move forward to shift the energy of the world.

My hero, Grace Lee Boggs, (who is a 96 year old revolutionary who lived through critical moments in US history including the civil rights movements as an active participant) writes about these principles in her book The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. The first chapter in this incredible book is smilingly titled “These Are the Times to Grow Our Souls”. And I want to dedicate this blog post to her and her incredible wisdom, strength and courage.

These ARE the times to grow our souls.

We as human creatures have estranged ourselves from our human-ness, and have started to become robotic. Number crunchers, slaves to the economic system, and worshippers of the culture of materialism.

Grace points out to us, that we must re-connect with nature, and use the arts as a tool for empowerment.  I couldn’t agree with her more. Just as a seed needs soil and rain to nurture it to grow, our souls also need nutrients to grow.

Many of us are still sleeping, and our soul energy is trapped somewhere under the Louis Vuitton bags and Jordan sneakers, the aspirations for fame and fotune… as we are slowly becoming products, selling not only our time and energy, but ourselves and our identities… as a result our souls have become lost somewhere in this mix, unable to express its brilliance.

Earlier today I tweeted @suntherealsun “the next north american #revolution will call upon us, a rekindling of our spiritual connection to nature/earth and artistic expression”

I believe that the Arts, when in its pure form, is a channel for the voice of the soul.

Grace Lee Boggs also speaks about the need for our generation to re-connect with nature. To learn to grow our own food, to learn the true meaning of sustainable living.  This is beyond putting the cans and paper into the right recycling bins (Thank you also to Futoshi Sensei for redefining sustainable living in this way, during our Sustainable Lifestyles course on SWY 24!) This is about a fundamental shift in the way we live our lives! The earth is in a state of emergency, as Grace says in the interview below, we are in a “planetary crisis”… So what are we going to do about it? She offers some deep insight into this conversation in the video below.

So, I have an idea, and for now it is just an idea, and I’m hoping that I’m not the only one with this idea (I’m sure I’m not), and I hope you who is reading this, and the people around me and people everywhere will sooner rather than later tune into this frequency and energy as well (and some perhaps already have and are forging forward! if you are one of these people, please contact me!)… and this idea is that we need to integrate somehow art and nature together… Somehow, reconnect with nature and at the same time reconnect with the voices of our souls through art and nurture these both to blossom, in an integrated fashion.

For example, learning how to connect to nature in a practical way, through such things as farming, or growing herbal medicines, etc. and then channeling these learnings and becoming one with them, and feeling them on a soul level, as it is channeled through art (music, poetry, dance, visual, etc). Creating a new culture of existence. A culture that values and is connected to the spirituality of nature, walks with hands and feet that preserve, respect, and builds sustainability, and expresses freely the creativity and wisdom of our souls, to create meaningful dialogue between the generations, and a platform and path for the future generations to follow that heads in the direction of true prosperity, happiness, sustainability, and the truth of how to live a meaningful existence.

Maybe I’m an idealistic dreamer with stars in her eyes… but my heart and my brain start dancing and buzzing with excitement at the potential of these prospects. And that, I know, is something real.

There is much work to be done. And many paths to carve, and we as this generation who is alive and fit at this critical moment in history, must not be afraid to be creative, innovative, brave, and revolutionary.

Revolution. Over time I have come to re-define the word revolution for myself and the way that I understand it, live it, and move within it.  With recent uprisings in the Arab world, and revolutions that have happened throughout history, many people associate this idea of revolution with bloody guerrilla warfare, protesting in the streets, throwing molotov cocktails and rocks at tanks and police, and so on… and understandably so. History and present-day is filled with these types of revolts. And this is real, and the people at the frontlines of these uprisings should be recognized for their courage and bravery for acting and speaking out against oppression.

But we as people who are fighting for change must also be innovators, challenge the notions of past, broaden our perspectives and open our minds and hearts to encompass something bigger, wiser, holistic, and lasting.  Its not enough to fight back in anger, point blame, and seek to take over power.  Seeking to take over power and acting out in anger for me is not true revolution. Though it is Crucial and important to raise our voices in order to raise awareness, it cannot stop there. Revolution in a holistic sense i think happens through education, through art, community projects, dialogue, genuine human connection, through hugs, through laughter.  As the age old Gandhi saying goes “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Grace Lee Boggs writes and speaks about the Evolution of Revolution. Just as we evolve, our movements must evolve. And we are at a time when the fate of the world, of the planet, depends on us evolving into our humanity. Evolving our consciousness to feel, breathe, connect, with our true selves, our souls, and the earth that supports us.

I will close off this blog with an excerpt from Grace’s book The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. “Chapter 1: These are the Times to Grow Our Souls”

“These are the times that try our souls. Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Each of us needs to be awakened to a personal and compassionate recognition of the inseparable interconnection between our minds, hearts, and bodies; between our physical and psychical well-being; and between our selves and all the other selves in our country and the world. Each of us needs to stop being a passive observer of the suffering that we know is going on in the world and start identifying with the sufferes. Each of us needs to make a leap that is both practical and philosophical, beyond determinism to self-determination. Each of us has to be true to enhance our own humanity by embracing and practicing the conviction that as human beings we have Free Will … To become truly human and to really know Truth, people discovered we need to summon up all our mental and spiritual resources, constantly expanding our imaginations, sensitivities, and capacity for wonder and love, for hope rather than despair, for compassion and cooperation rather than cynicism and competition, for spiritual aspiration and moral effort. Instead of either/or, reductive, dualistic and divisive, or “blaming the other,” thinking, the movement affirmed the unity of mind and body and the spiritual with the material. It advocated a consciousness that rejects determinism – the belief that we are limited by the past – and repudiates all absolutes. Instead, the movement promoted a consciousness that finds joy in crossing boundaries, in naturalistic instead of supernatural, and strives for empowerment rather than power and control … We are in the midst of a process that is nothing short of reinventing revolution. For much of the twentieth century the theory and practice of revolution have been dominated by overarching ideologies, purist paradigms, and absolutist views of a static Paradise; arguments over which class, race, or gender was the main revolutionary social force; and binary oppositions between Left and Right. Big victories have been prioritized over small collaborative actions that build community and neighbourhoods: the end has been valued over the means. We rarely stopped to wonder how much this view of revolution reflected the capitalist culture that was dehumanizing us … Art can help us to envision the new cultural images we need to grow our souls.” – Grace Lee Boggs

The Greatest Love of All = Self-Love… Thank You Whitney Houston

The Great Love of All IS Self-Love… a lesson many of us are not taught as we grow and flower. But this song captured by the beautiful and magnificent Whitney Houston, reminds me that, we all need to be reminded to take on the challenge to find “The Greatest Love of All”. And the truth is, we all need to be supported and encouraged to take this epic journey of discovering how to love yourself. all of us… I feel that the road to self-love is a deep, intricate and challenging journey, but one that will teach us about the meaning of a true, genuine, happy and honest existence. Thank you Whitney. We love you. We miss you.

This song reminds me also, the reason why investing in teaching our youth about the value of self-love in educational settings is critical. My mom always told me that, for the time that I am of an age to be attending school, it is my job to be a student…  So we put this obligation on our youth, through culture and through law that they should be students (Canadian federal law states that it is illgal to not attend school if you are between the ages of 5 and 16). I think that makes sense. Kids need to be schooled, learn, and grow.

What I don’t think makes sense is sometimes the resources and teachings we give (or don’t give) them in schools. The lesson of self-love. It is one that cannot be learned through textbooks and copying notes into a book from the chalkboard. Learning to love yourself is a lesson learned through experiences of connection. And our schools (and society as a whole in fact) is full of dis-connection, or lack of connection. There is a disconnect that is, and has been happening between students and the curriculum, students and teachers, peer to peer. I believe people need to be in a space of connectedness to understand the concept, complexities, and depth of self-love.

We need to teach our youth how to connect, with themselves. The value of the depth of who you are as a person, and that whatever you discover inside of yourself is beautiful. Its true that the most beautiful things in life are often things we cannot touch.

The day that each single one of our youth, and every single of us, and every single human being on earth sees the true beauty inside of ourselves, and learns how to love ourselves in honesty, truth, and dignity, the world would cease to experience war, greed, shame and abuse.  We, create reality. Each one of us contributes to what reality is, and we control what it becomes. Reality is first crafted in the mind. Perception, attention, and experiences define a person’s reality. And if we are able to shift our perception and attention towards healing ourselves so that we can truly love ourselves in the deepest sense, the energy of the world around us will change with us.

We must all learn how to love ourselves. Its the only way we can save the world. We must equip our youth with the tools to create a better future for themselves and the next generation. We must teach our youth, and ourselves, the true meaning of self-love, The Greatest Love of All.

Here are the Lyrics to this beautiful song:

“Greatest Love Of All”

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

[Chorus:]
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

[Chorus]

And if, by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

march 30 2012 – the hard lines of resistance

“police everywhere! justice nowhere!”
the protesters shouted in the streets.
four of their own was beaten, arrested as they were dragged from a pool of their own blood.
occupy.
the remnants of the occupy movement voice their anger and frustrations of being violated
so they shout,
“police everywhere! justice no where!”
they stop traffic and yell,
“who’s streets? our streets!”
reclamation, the energy of empowerment.
anger boils in their veins,
in the bitter cold Canadian winter.
police escort with bikes.
we are in Canada.

I engaged in conversation with one of the people who was part of the movement. I told him,
“I worked with youth teaching poetry in an elementary school today”
he showed interest, until I said it was through the Royal Conservatory of Music.
an organization that prides itself in prestige.
the direct opposite of ideology held by the occupy movement.
maybe he was just distracted and focused on the protest and getting people organized, which is most likely the case.
but the timing of this shift of energy sparked me to think.
at what point do hard lines become hindrance to progress and positive social change, to the movement?
would it be better for me to not do my work with the youth, to help them express themselves and heal,
because it is through channels that are directly linked to oppressive systems?
but we are all directly linked to oppressive systems…
we are inescapably a part of it… it feeds us, grooms us, provides us with warmth, shelter, and experiences that shape our identities…
so what now?
I am teaching youth who probably come from racist parents who grew up in a racist town.
the same racist town that gave me my own scars of internalized racism, hate and shame that I still carry remnants of until today.
Peterborough.
that’s where I was today teaching.
and the same kinds of kids that bullied me because I had yellow skin,
are the same kids I know carry their own baggage of insecurity and shame that they also need help healing from…
it’s a complicated matter.
maybe there are no hard lines.
only perceived ones.
but we create reality with the power of our minds.
so if we perceive it, it becomes reality.
… now it’s just getting convoluted.
all I know is, the police beat someone today who was already in handcuffs until they were lying in a puddle of their own blood… and then the fire trucks came to wash away the evidence.