The MetaView does not ask the question: “Why did these men go after each other,” nor does it ask “Who is to blame?” or “What should they have done?” The MetaView asks the question: What does it mean that this incident triggered such intense national scrutiny, going immediately to the top of all news reports and dominating the national interest for several days, and continues to be the subject of essays and opinions?
Such intense interest means that every individual has suffered with what we saw going on. Just about everyone is interested in racism. It is an unhealed open wound of our national history. Who has not wrongly judged another and been judged themselves erroneously based on a superficial appearance such as clothes, skin color, sex, education or political affiliation? This universal human experience of judging/being judged by how we appear to others is at the core of many current world tensions. Racism is just one particular, challenging form of this human habit.
Perhaps in this relatively small situation between 2 intelligent, highly educated men, we can see more clearly the ignorance of judging others by their appearance. And, perhaps, in observing the outcome resulting from the way President Obama backed off of an initially “racially oriented” reaction to a “friendly” response, another piece of this historical wound can be healed.
The immediate level of tension that arose from this event and the subsequent redirection of that tension is a remarkable learning moment for the nation and perhaps the world.
The Miracle of Awareness
The miracle is how gracefully and easily both Prof. Gates and Sgt. Crowley responded to the context of friendliness that was offered by President Obama.
While it’s very normal and very human to judge another based on superficial appearances, it’s enlightened to catch it and see the truth of individual uniqueness.
This is the miracle of awareness. Becoming aware that the provoked, immediate reaction is not the best of who we really are, allows a more intelligent, enlightened and friendly response. In this incident, cooler, wiser awareness did prevail, abolishing the tension that in the moment looked so dangerous. Perhaps the same inspired wisdom will be received in other situations.
Thank you President Obama for your enlightened approach to this universally challenging situation. And thank you Sgt. Crowley and Prof. Gates for responding to the invitation to understand and heal. All of you are models of enlightened leadership.