S1E16 - Self Help Guru: Help thyself!
Why is it so hard for those life coaches, meditation teachers and self-improvement leaders to say "Black Lives Matter?"
Welcome to The Whole Phil podcast, I am your host, Phil Reese, the DJ, that's my Facebook name, Really Phil Reese, that's my Twitter, Phillip J Reese, that's my Instagram, my dot com and my real life. Tweet me right now, hashtag #getyourwholephil and tell me about yourself. I am a loving, lovable, chubby, queer, sober, spiritual, vegetarian, feminist radical leftist web developer, and deejay in DC. This is the podcast where you get your whole Phil. I talk about whatever I want, with whomever I want, and do whatever I want, because there's no rules, no format, and no fucking censors. Let's start the show.
Today is Monday, June 8, and We’re talking about self improvement culture in the face of a radical social paradigm shift.
It’s no secret I’m pretty woo-woo hippie-dippie, and I talk a lot about self-improvement, and the ways I am trying to improve myself all the time. I want to share with others the tips, tricks and coping mechanisms I have found that have been invaluable to deal with my addictions, compulsions, behavioral issues, depressive disorder and generalized anxiety. I believe that the search for serenity and peace is a just and prudent pursuit for any human and every human.
But we do not live in a vacuum. The world around us continues to turn even as we are doing work internally, and we are not exempt from having to interact with that change.
For me, at least, the goal of self improvement is to make myself more capable of making the world a better place. I believe that the point of life is to leave the world better than you came into it, to spread goodness. I can’t be at my best in my efforts to affect change in the world if I’m ignoring the mess inside that constantly gets in the way. But those two activities have to occur concurrently. I am doing no good if I completely shut out the world and everything happening in a misguided effort to find serenity for me and me alone. That’s not self improvement, as Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, that’s masturbation.
It’s impossible to be at your best to participate in the efforts to make change when you are still healing from past traumas or you are otherwise not doing the work you need to do for yourself to be able to dedicate yourself mentally to the fight in front of you, so by all means, a balance is necessary and good. You can’t be physically on the front lines of the protest every single day 365 a year. It’s impossible. You can’t be having difficult conversations with those in need of education 24/7, it’s too mentally exhausting. You can’t donate all of your money to the causes you believe in, you got to pay rent and utilities, and buy food and medicine first. As Lauryn Hill says “How you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” Balance your advocacy with time to heal.
But early in the past few weeks of protest, I perceived that a lot of the people I respected, from whom I have learned a lot about making myself a better person over the last year, were hesitant to dip their toes into the discussion of George Floydd, Black Lives Matter, Police Brutality and the protests. And many have unfortunately emphasized the internal work over the community advocacy as a response to this. In short, lots of self-help gurus are suggesting everyone just go meditate a while instead of protest and we’ll all be better off. This is a crock of shit.
Meditation isn’t a crock of shit, I’ve been meditating every day, even through all this, though I will admit my concentration has been shot, and my mind is wandering more than usual, and my meditations are shorter and less fulfilling than usual. But they are bringing me a little more peace than I would otherwise have. But I would not be authentically Phil if I wasn’t also doing what I can to push against the systemic problems I see in the society around me. I am here, after all to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Working to better myself, and provide guidance to others who are seeking help to better themselves is only part of who I am. And I have to be my whole self. That’s the name of the damn podcast after all.
When we see police brutality against people of color and trans people, and then we see people from all over rising up and finally saying enough is enough, and our response to that is that everyone just needs to meditate more, it’s no different than that asshole who sees someone post “Black Lives Matter,” and decides to respond with “All Lives Matter.” YES we need to all seek a future where we can all be at peace and serene. We’re not there yet, that’s what we’re trying to do, because avenues to that life are COMPLETELY closed off for most people of color at the moment, and the powerful people in charge of those avenues aren’t going to budge if we ask nicely. YES, all lives SHOULD matter, but right now, it’s obvious that those in power don’t believe that applies to black lives. Saying black lives matter doesn’t mean white lives don’t matter. It means we need to shine a light on this specific problem right now.
If you have the privilege to be able to tune out what’s happening right now because police brutality and racism do not personally affect you, it’s your duty to take a break from your crystals and your yoga block and proactively push for a paradigm shift right now. Sinking into your own little world right now is complacency with a fucked up racist system. And the complacency of the privileged is complicity with the racist power structure. Complicity with the racist power structure makes you, what? A racist. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. But white silence is violence. Put that in your chakra and smoke it.
Right now is not the time to be encouraging everyone calm down. Right now is the time to use your privilege FOR GOOD, to advocate for change in a racist criminal justice system, and the way that our society looks the other way. Talk to those in power about replacing the militarized -- decidedly non-zen, by the way -- police force where you are with a community-based alternative. Advocate for better government funding in education and social support. Demand law enforcement be held accountable for their actions. And say it loud, and say it often: Black lives matter.
That's it for today. I hope you're enjoying the show. If you like what you hear, please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, just search Whole Phil or go to bit.ly/findwholephil, and please drop me a rating. Tweet me at @reallyphilreese with topic ideas you think I should cover.
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And, finally, remember, be good to yourself, love yourself, and we're all in this together.
Black Lives Matter.
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