by Dennis McCarty
In 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance.” I was seventeen years old when he wrote that. I gaze back across those decades and realize he was definitely writing about me, not just then, but also now. . .
“Reeducation” begins by letting go of what we think we already know. To do that, as one Dharma Teacher observed, “we must be deeply fearless and honest with ourselves.” This often means the courage to let go of what pretends to be self-evident “truth.” Deconstruct many an assumed “fact” and we find a culturally conditioned belief which does not stand up to scientific or historic scrutiny. . .
I’ve meditated on The Heart Sutra for years. To “reeducate myself,” as King put it, I must provide “empty” space for learning to enter: the kind of “emptiness” that makes room for surprises and, not least, uncomfortable new viewpoints. The call to “center” marginalized voices compels me to seek out and pay heed to experience outside my own, privileged context. . .
Injustice within a system is most often invisible to someone comfortable with that system. We need to “center”—and really listen to—voices that know what exclusion feels like. . .
Dennis McCarty has been a sailor, an electrician, a teacher, and a UU minister. He is dedicated to the beauty and subtlety of the English language–and a non-theistic life of faith, and feels that “religion is so much larger than just what you do or don’t believe”.