SACRED ACTIVISM: connecting thoughts and beliefs to everyday choices.
Sacred Activism is a new category of posts for my interfaith ministry blog. These social ministry issues – their meanings and implications – flow from my inner work of meditation, blessings, prayers and study. My awareness of some of the challenges also come to my attention through my interactions with persons I meet and serve as an urban minister.
I have come to recognize that within my silent times, I frequently experience the visions and voices of the hopeless, lonely, guilty, oppressed, down trodden, poor, ugly.
In many ways, I enjoy the life of a contemplative monk living on the periphery of the Entertainment Capital of the World… a monk in Sin City.
In my silent solitude, I dialogue with my Sacred.
Through my Facebook account, I share daily posts in support of unity, positivity, hope, compassion and forgiveness.
To date, this blog has centered on the themes of my public ministry… an interfaith message that hope = compassion + forgiveness.
Some of my posts will now offer some reflection on moving from contemplation to action… from prayer to sacred activism… from grace to works…from awareness to change.
And so it is…
As always, I welcome your feedback. Namaste!
Black Students In The U.S. Get Criminalized While White Students Get Treatment
The same misbehavior is treated in very different ways.
When black and white kids act up or display troubling behavior at schools, teachers and administrators often address it with differing responses split along racial lines, new research shows.
Black students are more likely to be punished with suspensions, expulsions or referrals to law enforcement, a phenomenon that helps funnel kids into the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, white kids are more likely to be pushed into special education services or receive medical and psychological treatment for their perceived misbehaviors, according to a study released last week in the journal Sociology of Education.
Overall, this pattern often leads to the criminalization of young black students and the medicalization of white students.
The study, conducted by Pennsylvania State University assistant professor of sociology and criminology David Ramey, analyzed the rates of suspensions, expulsions and police referrals at 59,000 schools across the country. He also looked at how many students in these schools were enrolled in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, two programs designed to help kids in need of special services.
Ramey found that schools with larger populations of black students also had higher rates of suspensions, while schools with more white students had a greater number of kids in programs designed for students with special needs.
Ramey offers a few explanations for his findings. For one, to qualify for special services under IDEA, students must be given an official diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional detailing why they need extra help. Schools are given with funds to provide these extra, costly services from the government.
To receive special services under Section 504, however, students must display a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” but don’t need an official diagnosis. Schools don’t receive any funding for Section 504, so they must draw from their own resources to help students. This helps explain why schools with high populations of minority students are less likely to place students into special education services, according to the new research.
In addition, they study says many black families are “skeptical of medical and mental health research” because of the Tuskegee experiment, which involved researchers in the mid-20th century misleading and mistreating black men involved in a study about syphilis.
Disadvantaged schools also tend to have more one-size-fits-all approaches to discipline, leading to high rates of suspensions and expulsions.
“Where the population is more educated, parents make more money, housing values are greater, those districts tend to give a lot of autonomy to their schools,” Ramey told The Huffington Post.
A more insidious hypothesis is that suspending low-achieving students or medicalizing kids with certain disabilities helps schools boost their test scores.
“Some scholars have suggested that both the suspension and medicalization may be responses to standardized testing,” Ramey said. “If you suspend kids while they’re supposed to take the test, they no longer count against the school’s score.”
“Same thing with kids with borderline learning disabilities and putting them on medication,” he continued. “If a kid is borderline and you give them stimulant medication, that’s going to improve his or her test score and improve the school’s scores.”
Sadly, racial bias could also explain why black and white students are punished differently for similar behavior. Ramey explored this phenomenon in earlier research.
“The bulk of my earlier research looked at how, for the same minor levels of misbehaviors — for example, classroom disruptions, talking back — white kids tend to get viewed as having ADHD, or having some sort of behavioral problem, while black kids are viewed as being unruly and unwilling to learn,” Ramey said in a press release.
How to Give Back from the Heart
By Andrew Harvey
With so many crises facing our planet–from extreme poverty to environmental depletion to our often hurried, disconnected pace of life–the future can seem bleak. And many of us feel discouraged and overwhelmed about our ability to make a difference. The most visible world activists are often “fighting for peace,” an ironic position that doesn’t really reach the roots of our planetary problems.
But one movement, “sacred activism,” an approach in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, engages our compassion so that action comes from love.
Author and teacher Andrew Harvey has written a book about this phenomenon, offering sage wisdom and practical tools for positive personal and planetary transformation.
He suggests trying these ten things to start to align yourself “with the power and hope of sacred activism.”
The following is an excerpt is from The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism (Hay House, 2009) by Andrew Harvey.
The first six invite you into deep, nourishing connection with your spirit; the last four will help you express the compassion and joy this connection awakens in you in action:
Ask yourself: What’s Sacred to Me?
Read Sacred words
Pray or ask to align with Love
Develop a spiritual practice
Make a small gesture
Take a baby step for world hunger
Reach into your community
Choose a cause
The Iraq War began 12 years ago this week on March 19, 2003.
With America leading false charges regarding the immanent threat posed by alleged weapons of mass destruction, the United States invaded another nation.
This ongoing violence is deeply embedded into the psyche and culture of an entire generation of American children:
*best estimates of between 500,000 and 1.4 million Iraqi civilian are dead
*4,486 American soldiers are dead
*32,021 American soldiers are wounded
*Unknown number of soldiers returning with traumatic brain injuries from IED’s
*18 American veterans suicide a day on average
*Iraq War has cost the USA $2.2 trillion dollars which looks like this: $2,200,000,000.00
*Iraq War perpetrated unprecedented violations of the principles of American democracy and integrity of international law
*the psychological & ethical tolls the war has cost our national image in the global community
In addition to these economic and moral costs, the Veterans Administration is pervasively slow and perpetually under-serves our armed forces. The immediate and ready availability of abundant war “surplus” (which you paid for) has lead to the militarization of local police departments (and its not just in large cities). We’ve employed the successful methods of marketing/advertising to orchestrate language spins like “collateral damage” to sanitize the catastrophic destruction and death of war.
The big picture multifaceted costs of the Iraq War continue to shape our society as a culture of violence for us…and our kids.
But collectively we don’t talk it. This conversation doesn’t happen.
I’m ashamed that the color of a dress, TMZ gossip and March Madness are our chatter.
Talk of violence and war…having conversations in our heads and our hearts…among families and friends…is what sacred activism sounds like as it emerges.
These dialogues are the responsibility of religious people in general and spiritual people in particular.
What we consider as Sacred affects these discussion. God matters regarding our perceptions of violence.
Please make no mistake. I honor all American soldiers and sincerely consider our wounded warriors to be some of my personal heroes.
They demonstrate a profound courage that I do not possess.
But my prayers and mediation; reading and thinking; study and ministry…show me that human rights; equality of gender, race and sexual orientation; violence; ecology and economic disparity…these need to be the interfaith agenda inviting all religious paths to provide sustainable solutions.
I won’t stop searching every day for inspiration, hope and moments of compassion and forgiveness (which is the mission of my ministry) or reporting bits of good news. But as my intuitive sense of the urgency of sacred activism evolves, I need to express my growing belief that violence and its pervasive manifestations are a spiritual emergency demanding my attention.
*Adapted from Gandhi’s 10 Rules for Changing the World,an article by Henrik Edberg
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
YOU ARE IN CONTROL
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
FORGIVE AND LET IT GO
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
WITHOUT ACTION YOU AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE
“An ounce of practice is worth moth than tons of preaching.”
TAKE CARE OF THIS MOMENT
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
EVERYONE IS HUMAN
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
SEE THE GOOD IN PEOPLE AND HELP THEM
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
BE CONGRUENT, BE AUTHENTIC, BE YOUR TRUE SELF
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
CONTINUE TO GROW AND EVOLVE
“Constant development is the law of life and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”