This is the day…

Change can’t begin without acceptance. Accepting a situation doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, but accepting the current situation has to be the starting point. Then you have to assess what you can change and what you can’t. Understanding the difference what can and cannot be changed has been the source of conflict since, well forever.

I may have mentioned this before, and I will do again, the Serenity Prayer is the basis of my daily meditations. Please don’t confuse this with a religious message. It isn’t. A spiritual one perhaps, but it is non-denominational and is open to the way you wish to view it. Interpretations of who or what God is, or even if God exists at all, has been another source of conflict since, well forever. So I ain’t going there.

Anyway, verse one of the Serenity Prayer using God as how you understand your higher power to be…

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference

All very sound advice so far. Verse 1 is not just the bedrock of 12-step addiction recovery. But something you can apply to everything.

Verse 2, to me gives an elaboration on how to do this…

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking this sinful world as it is not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy with you in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Serenity is of course the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. If this prayer troubles you because it sounds religious, maybe it’s down to your own perceptions. Not just in your belief or concept of whether there is such a thing as a higher power but maybe also whether there is a life after death. It is of course entirely personal to you. My belief is that within your physical lifetime you can have several different lives. For example, in simple binary terms, I have had a drunk life and now have a sober life. There was a process of transition between the two that started with the death of one life and re-birth of the new one. What followed the re-birth involved some mourning, soul searching and changes to behaviour as well, but for me and many like me, it is a completely different life all within one body.

And now, to Black Lives Matter, as I can’t ignore it at this moment in time. First of all I don’t have any answers only an opinion. However this is my take on it. If you post things like “all Lives Matter’’ then you probably don’t understand the problem of racism. This will probably stem from your own life experiences. Of course all lives matter, and for that very reason Black Lives have to Matter.

The Black Lives Matter movement came about because of repeated injustice and endemic racism that has its roots in empire and slavery. The UK’s wealth and standing in the world has been built on empire (pillaging of the world’s natural resources) and slavery (pillaging of the world’s human resources).

As a white man who has lived his whole life in the UK I have never been in a situation where I have been treated with suspicion or prejudice because of the colour of my skin. And I have always believed this to be the case wherever I have travelled to on holiday or through work. (I might be wrong on the latter of course but that’s how I felt).

I do know people who have though. Acquaintances as well as some friends have all experienced overt, covert and institutionalised racism. Whether it’s being stopped for driving an expensive car, walking down ‘the wrong’ pavement, being judged on stereotypical entrenched viewpoints, over looked for employment or simple nervousness around them, through unconscious bias, based on their looks. This transcends all walks of life. And no doubt some will point to positions of prominence that some people of colour have attained. A view in the style of Jim Bowen perhaps – let’s see what you could have done. But the ‘some of my friends are’ argument never even tries to understand. (I’m not suggesting Jim Bowen is a racist by the way, I’m just punning by paraphrasing a catch phrase he used on TV in Bullseye back in the 1980s).

Understanding that the latest reasons bringing all of this to prominence was the unlawful and senseless killing of George Floyd, a black man, held under restraint by a white police officer in the USA. The reasons for his restraint are irrelevant. But it killed him. It is not just the way in which he was killed either, although that is shocking. It was the complete under reaction from the authorities in bringing the killer to justice that sparked the outrage that is sweeping the globe. Sure, eventually the perpetrator has been charged with murder, but that has only come about because of the mass reaction to the initial injustice. It is shamefully yet another extreme example of institutionalised racism. And it’s not just an American problem. If you think the UK is exempt from entrenched racism, remind yourself of the far too recent and ongoing Windrush scandal, or Theresa May’s ‘Go Home’ vans or our current prime minister’s racist diatribes documented in print and other media formats. And not so long ago, the cover up that followed the Stephen Lawrence murder.

For me to try and understand, I speak with my British BAME friends, my friends born in other countries, my religious and secular friends along with their friends and families. I try to understand from all sides. I explore different cultures through music, film, books and art. I have an open mind and I try to always offer the hand of peace, love and understanding to everyone I meet. It’s the only way, I believe, to overcome prejudice and unconscious bias.

Today’s photography mixes were inspired by, Understand What Black Is by The Last Poets. They are all flower images that I have sent to friends over the last few days as tokens of friendship and love.

I live in hope that this is the day that things will surely change and when things fall into place…

Ronnie xx