We are all grieving at the passing of John Lewis. What a remarkable man, filled with integrity, purpose, courage, and grit. He spent a lifetime in the fight for justice and civil rights under the most challenging of circumstances. He never lost faith in his hopes for change and how to achieve it. “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful,” he said.
I am weepy at his passing. I am trying to wrap my mind (and heart) around why. Certainly, he was such a good man. A model of a determined activist who never lost his passion for a world of equity. I understand being sad at his passing, but being so emotional is a surprise to me.
I have been feeling like I have been living in the bardo for months now and John Lewis’ death has brought that bardo feeling more viscerally into my being. The long arc of justice is indeed very long, beyond my lifetime, perhaps beyond my grandchildren’s lifetimes. That’s what has hit home for me with his passing. The Civil War ended in 1865 and slavery was abolished with the Thirteenth Amendment which was ratified at the end of that very same year. Will the history books say that it took another 200 years after the Civil War to transform the institutions of society which were steeped in systemic racism? That it took another 200 years to dismantle and rebuild? Perhaps that is too optimistic of me. 200 years from the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment is only 45 years from now. We have a lot of work to do to meet that deadline. Yes, the arc is long.
And under this long arc of justice is the bardo, that place the Tibetans say is between death and rebirth. Under this long arc of justice, I’m trying to keep my eye on the long game. This very, very, very long game. Though I am in this for the long haul, what is hard, what is making me so emotional (and this is not said out of despair, but rather out of compassion), is the awareness of all the suffering, hardship, and injustice that will continue to exist until we get this right.
So insightful that “suffering, hardship, and injustice that will continue to exist until we get this right” is what is causing our Bardo. And it feels like we are so helpless in the face of this as we are with COVID 19 especially with no leadership from the top. Buddhism recognizes suffering as a result of fighting or accepting the impermanence of all things in life. So maybe with that philosophy, the hardship and injustice will pass as well. Those in the Bardo must “foot the bill” unfortunately, but we (I) will do out part to partially pay it off. I love you Miss Yourist!
I love you too, Dr. Horvich!