The first day of the year has been quiet. The gunfire has subsided. I found myself on my knees in prayer as the new year dawned, not out of piety necessarily, rather it was because gunshots filled the air and I didn't want to be the first casualty of the new year. I spent New Year's Eve at Equator Faith church in East Oakland. I'd never prayed the New Year in and I thought it would be a great time to start. This was before I found out that January 1, 2008, marked the bicentennial of the end of the slave trade from Africa to North America. Last year, was Britain's 200th anniversary, a year where there was much discussion and public programs and reflection on how the transatlantic slave trade affected western society and what impact it has still on Western culture, especially the economic structure of European and America, nations, individuals and families.
I have been reading Alice Walker: A Life and in this well-documented and written biography by Evelyn C. White, Walker comments on her classmates' wealth and privilege at Sarah Lawrence College where she received her undergraduate degree. In the margins I wrote, that these young women's wealth was made by Alice Walker's ancestors in Georgia. Her family's poverty was directly connected to the 400 years of free labor white Americans banked.
Earlier today, I was thinking about the three people shot Sunday. I hadn't realized one person was shot in front of Allen Temple, but a woman was shot in the parking lot at Rev. Bob's church, Act's Full, not far away.
As I stood in line at the post office, I was reflecting on love, as the answer. Love doesn't mean you have to like me. Love doesn't mean you don't want me to stand trial, love just means that you have compassion and no ill will and don't want wish evil on me, even if I think I deserve such treatment.
I think we can love ourselves back into humanity. I don't know if it's possible without a vaccination if a person has a deadly virus like those creatures did in Will Smith's latest film. Dr. Neville loved them, but they were incapable of loving him back. Perhaps it's not a vaccination, but so many hours of therapy....Like Dr. Neville, I don't think we can afford to give up on any of us. If we do, if Neville hadn't kept trying to find a cure, then the virus would have spread beyond New York and contaminated others, especially those who did not have a natural immunity. I think the immunity is a certain purity of spirit, a moral fortitude. This immunity is not limited to people.
If the virus is analogous to a moral contaminate, like hate, then we have to love each other so that hate doesn't infect the more vulnerable among us, like some children, animals, the infirm and frail and those weak in spirit.
Today, at a time when heads of state like the form prime minister of Pakistan, Bhutto, is killed--the murder seemingly supported by this country and Pakistan, Kenya is reeling from rigged election results, and Iran is still on President George W. Bush's list for invasion--one needs to have faith or Imani. This is what kept most of our ancestors alive in the transport across the Atlantic, kept us believing in freedom even after they'd forgotten what it felt like, kept them believing that the present conditions would not last forever.
Imani has no empirical presence, or so it's said, but we have examples of faith to guide us when things seem bleak. Hope is hard to find in the dark, yet, once our eyes adjust, light is visible.