The other day I read a blog post that got me to thinking… transformative thinking. It featured a sensational discussion of differing perspectives regarding an image on Instagram, a social media site. The image (shown below) showcases Greek (fraternity and sorority) unity and features three Caucasian members of three different historically black Greek-lettered organizations, including my own. While I find the image to be beautiful, not just for the skill of the photographer but also in the beautiful diversity it showcased, others did not. And though it pains me, I do understand some of the hesitance and resistance.
As I read the authors words and many of the comments, I was saddened. I could hear the “fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still”. I could see the “bars of rage” because “wings are clipped and feet are tied”. I understood that the blogger was singing her own song- but then so too were many that left comments. So I was sad. Sad because diversity and acceptance, despite who one is and where s(he) has come from, are still such explosive topics. Sad because in one way, or another, we are all still caged birds dreaming of our flight to freedom. Sad because some of the folks commenting did not even realize they were or are caged.
Discussions such as these display that there are still tangible and intangible issues keeping us trapped, whether physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Mentally and/or emotionally holding on to a real or perceived wrong, past using it as a catalyst for personal and/or societal growth, can be a cage. And with so many people in this cage- we are not a truly free people!
It is high time for some self reflection to determine who or what may be holding you captive. Once you can recognize that thing, whatever it may be, and work earnestly to break its hold then you, and I, will be closer to freedom.
For a long time I let anger, resentment, and an inability to forgive take hold of my heart and it effected my relationships with the people around me. I did not appreciate how I was impacting my environment- I did not exist in isolation and my problems were not mine alone. I have only since realized my affect and I am actively working to adjust my thinking and doing. Now I read, I write, I talk, and I forgive to deter internalization and constant pull of the negative. I have a friend, in Jesus, that no one can take away and he encourages me. These things work for me. They are helping me to chip away at my cage. I encourage you to find what might begin chipping away.
We, as one people, are the sum of all of our parts. We, as human beings, exhibit herd behaviors, pack instincts, and communal behaviors. Think urban over-population, “keeping up with the Joneses”, or even “birds of a feather flock together”. It’s biblical. It’s scientific. It’s philosophical. It’s real. We share a collective strength and we share a collective struggle. Find the strength to tear down your own cage so that you can be free to help an other do the same. There is beauty, just as the Greek-lettered image shows, in people challenging the status quo where injustice is felt, especially as a means to help someone else do the same.
This post is dedicated to the late Dr. Maya Angelou and to the many caged birds longing, dreaming, hoping, and fighting to be free.