February: The time of year we look forward to celebrating love on Valentine’s day while looking back with pride on past figures who embodied love and strength against all odds as we honor Black History Month. In 1931, one of these such figures, leader of the Harlem Renaissance and iconic African- American poet, Langston Hughes wrote:
"I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
and beautiful and kind?"
Well. We’re still waiting. On the one hand, we have made enormous strides since then and the momentum created in the hearts of all who have not been given their fair share of honor and respect is accelerating. On the other hand, our nation is boiling over from the heat of the systemic inequality left in place after the Civil Rights Movement. We are watching the vicious claws of racism, classism, greed, and selfishness sharpen their nails with each news report.
As I look back on these stories, I am filled with a melancholy sort of joy. It is with sadness and grief that I think of the many young souls our nation has lost this year – youth that might have been dismissed in the detritus of their disenfranchisement were it not for their martyrdom. Yet, in the reactions to these tragedies, I feel a great uprising of hope as I watch communities stand together, not for revenge, but for love and respect and equality and honor to all.
History is happening now. We all have an important role to play.
It is said that we are in the age of Kali, the age of destruction...a violent transformation that will lead to the rebirth of the collective human soul. We can see this in the ways our society is changing. We are evolving, moving towards a greater spiritual awareness. Our paradigms are shifting and, as with any large-scale shift, the death throes of our old ways of interacting with each other will be forceful, frightening even.
I’ve heard many say that it is how we face those death throes that define us personally. What defines us interpersonally, however, is how we treat each other in the face of our transforming world. It is those interpersonal definitions that are how we manifest what we become as a society, as a whole, after all is said and done.
Unfortunately, it seems that America is reacting divisively to this process. Instead of pulling together and supporting each other and our communities, we are splitting along the ancient fault lines of race, religion, and inequality. We’re still waiting for that “good and beautiful and kind” world because we’ve avoided facing our systemic injustices for too long and ceased trusting our neighbors to care for each other. Apathy driven by fear and helplessness has stopped us from seeing the oneness that we all share.
History is happening now. The change starts with us.
The solution is so simple and yet so hard because, despite injustices and inequality, despite the divisive attitudes of others, we must treat each other as brothers and sisters... There are reflections of this sentiment in every major world religion, from the Christian exhortation to love thy neighbor as thyself to the Golden Rule. It is best exemplified, however, in the meaning of a simple greeting: Namaste.
Namaste, a phrase often accompanied by a gesture symbolic of both worship and respect, holding your hands in a prayer-position over your heart and bowing your head, literally translates to “I bow to you” but its true meaning is so much more. In this one simple word, you are taking a moment to acknowledge our oneness, to see that the God within you is within everyone. To say namaste is to understand, to respect, and to love each other and all of humanity.
That love and respect, that understanding and recognition that we are one, that the light that shines within ourselves is the same light that shines within us all... that is a world-changing, consciousness-lifting concept.
So let’s change our world one namaste at a time. You don’t have to use the traditional accompanying gesture or even the word namaste. Demonstrate your honor in any way you like, but take the time, in every encounter and at every moment, to understand and respect the oneness you share with every being you meet.
History is happening now.
Change the world by changing how we treat one another.
Namaste and...party on, dudes.
Christina James - writer, thinker, and doer - is Assistant Publisher of Aquarius Media Network. With a penchant for passion, spirituality, and culture, she is dedicated to living and writing with authenticity and love.