Charlottesville: A Response from the Sensory Awareness Foundation
Dear Friends of the Sensory Awareness Foundation,
“Once there is seeing, there must be action.” Charlotte Selver frequently cited these words by the Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. And often Charlotte added that if the practice of Sensory Awareness does not have any consequences in the way we live and act in the world, it is worthless.
We all saw what happened in Charlottesville a couple of weeks ago. Racism blatantly reared its head, emboldened by a toxic political climate of division, which encourages the lowliest of human impulses.
“We don’t need locks on our doors, we need locks on our attitudes.” Dick Gregory 1932 – 2017
In the face of the violence in Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer, we stand firmly with all victims of white supremacy. Our hearts go out to her family and especially to Susan Bro, Heather’s very courageous mother, and to all victims of racism in its varied forms, in Charlottesville and elsewhere. We hold free speech in high regard but we cannot condone the spreading of Nazi sentiments, whether they be screamed by marching torchbearers or cloaked in suit and tie.
Prejudice comes in many guises – and is often cleverly disguised. Quite frequently I don’t recognize it in myself. Blind spots are very hard to see but when we, as we do in Sensory Awareness, cultivate our senses, we have moments of clarity which can dismantle latent forms of racism, homophobia, and other culturally still widely tolerated afflictions, within ourselves and in society. From such insights we can build a culture that celebrates diversity in this interconnected world.
That prejudice is at its heart rooted in fear and a feeling of disenfranchisement does not justify it. When we recognize it – within ourselves and in our society – we are called to turn to it, with determination and compassion, and create conditions favorable to healing its festering wounds. Our actions may be very small, such as is this letter, but this path can only be cultivated by walking it, step by step. This is Sensory Awareness.
Charlotte Selver, herself a victim of Nazi persecution, often told us that Sensory Awareness is not about feeling good. It is about cultivating the human potential for clarity, kindness, and skillful action.
To this, we at the Sensory Awareness Foundation recommit ourselves.
with the SAF Board of Directors
Dilrini Ranatunga, Beate Heckner, Sara Gordon, Ray Fowler, Pamela Blunt, Sara Bragin, Michael Atkinson
and Michael Atkinson, Pat Meyer-Peterson, and Chester Howard
for the Sensory Awareness Leaders Guild