Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education

R. Michael Fisher
Troubles, Shallow, Deep, Deeper Still: Ferguson, MO
by R. Michael Fisher - Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 02:55 PM

There's no doubt the past and current problems of disparity in USA incarcertation (prison) rates of "white" to "brown" and "black," never mind disparities in mental health and illness, and general poverty compared to wealthy, are deeply disturbing to anyone paying attention. The dramatic pain, fear, terror and violence that has erupted in Feguson, MO, only some 2.5 hrs from where I live (Carbondale, IL) is touching me and my partner, and many here and most everywhere in the USA. But of course, there is a great divide about who is "right" and who is "wrong" in this controversy, tragedy, and puzzling situation where a white police officer kills an unarmed black young man 18 yrs of age, Yet, so much more has angered many in Ferguson, and I won't detail it all, other than many blacks rightfully so, feel they have been shamed and disrespected throughout the history of Ferguson's policing and the way the body of Michael Brown had laid on the street for a long number of hours after the shooting as if it was a dog run over in an alley. This will never do, and the police are witnessing what they've done, whether they take it in and change or not. Everywhere, now, again, just like after the Rodney King event in California many yrs. before, is on egg-shells now in policing circles. But is this all good? No. It is still all fear. The people (especially the blacks and activists who are anti-police) want the authorities to "fear them." And the police want the blacks and activists to "fear them." It is not good because it is all the same fear soup of a culture of fear in mayhem, irrational and justifying its use of fear to control others. This is not the path of fearlessness. Another path could have been taken by all parties involved, and now, upon some distance and reflection, I urge that it ought to be taken. I will be glad to assist any who ask me how we may do this.

I really don't want to write more about this, but I also don't want this to go unspoken to. Developing a culture of fearlessness from a culture of fear is a major transition in society in cultures-- and at this point, I don't see any race, ethnic group or any group at all leading this way to transformation of the way we (mis)use fear to "get our way." Reactions on all sides, as I read them, are typically shallow. I'm angry at the whole mess, and the deeper I analyze, I can see the "symptom" is the police and young man, the bigger problem is a racist society, and bigger and bigger (deeper and deeper) is the real problem that is the problem--the Fear Problem! This is nothing new, societies and many like to focus their rage on revenge, focus their righteous indignation on violence, and miss that both rage and righteous indignation is best put into a healing and liberation context, not more "actng out" of symptoms, like the mad child, adolescent, who keeps slamming the doors (or stealing and destroying property of others) in the house because they can't get their way. Which is not to say that legitimate complaints are absent by any "mad" person. There is always good reasons, and they are real, if we listen. But listening is a small first step of improvement, after the dramatic acting out to get attention so someone will listen. Yet, none of that is enough to heal through the oppressive system's sickness/woundness. We have a lot of deeper work to do than Ferguson. So, let's stop focusing in the media, and most everywhere on the violence in Ferguson, and remember that violence is the outcome of hurting, racism is the outcome of fearism. This incite has helped me realize what is really below terrorism of all kinds.

I end this speaking to violence/hurting/fear with a quote from the chambers of what is an emerging spirit of fearlessness, in my view, in the words of black lesbian feminist critical thinker bell hooks, citing one of my favorite books by Peck from the mid-80s. She wrote,

"This experiment [confronting racism] was not without pitfalls or disappointments. For those of us who were committed to doing the work, it brought us closer, into true community. In The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, M. Scott Peck defines true community as the coming together of 'a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to 'rejoice togther, to mourn together,' and 'to delight in each other' and make the conditions of other's our own.' Certainly, sharing laughter is necessary when we dare to enter the dialogues around difference that often evoke in us remembered woundedness or present pain." [excerpt from hooks, b. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. NY: Routledge, p. 196]