The other day I joined a group of friends playing music at the Snap Dragon Cafe. It's an informal group. Many of the musicians are graying, and most happen to be Caucasian. Whoever shows up has the opportunity to share a song while the rest sing along, listen, or accompany on their instruments. Sometimes I sit with them, sketching as they play.
This time a young black man joined us. Artis is from the east coast. He told us he moved out of his house and is touring and playing music with a group of friends.
When it was his turn to share a song, he sang of being together, as community. As friends. Just being.
I thought of "Black Lives Matter" and the backlash it is getting. I thought of how lately neighbors have called the police on black men, even when they are in their own homes or the yard of a relative! Even totally innocent, they have been identified as theives, as somehow dangerous, and shot, even killed. It occurred to me that Artis, is on a mission of healing, of helping to bring the races into better understanding, through music.
Artis is a treasure. I have known other black men who were gentle spirited as well, and never met one who was in the least disrespectful of me, and yet some people view black men as dangerous, as "the enemy". Why?
And who is the enemy?
When a neighbor calls the police on a black man who is in his grandmother's back yard and the police shoot and kill him when he pulls out a cell phone, who is the enemy? Is it the neighbor? The police? The black man?
My friend Edna says,
"I do not shrink from using the word "enemy": an enemy is any person or group who seek to do us harm, and there are now many powerful people who are doing great harm and need to be opposed."
For her, the enemy is "powerful people who are doing great harm", particularly to the environment and to less powerful people. For some people the enemy is black men, or immigrants, or liberals, or Republicans, or corporations, or....the list goes on. And there are people in all those categories who may be "doing great harm", but there are also many more people in all those categories who are doing great good.
Perhaps "the enemy" is not a group of people, maybe not even a particular person. Maybe "the enemy" is thought patterns that do great harm, especially when people act on them. What if we stopped fighting people who belong to this or that group we fear and instead oppose the actions of those people, and work to change the thought patterns?
Inspired by the places where land meets water, and by stories.