Guest Writer Jacquelyn Richey on the role of Satyagraha at Sister Giant
I was working out at the gym a couple months ago and a man collapsed a few treadmills over from me. I rushed over to see what assistance I could provide.
All around me people kept working out, ignoring what was happening before them. When the front desk did not turn down the deafening music and ask if there was a doctor in the house, I joined forces with another woman on the ﬂoor to demand they do so.
The staff didn’t want to “rock the boat” and said there was protocol to dealing with the situation. The protocol wasn’t working and a man was dying. With a new ally by my side, we continued to demand that they take steps to help. A doctor was found, and a man’s life was preserved. Those of us that care must step out of the periphery and make our voices heard.
When Marianne Williamson, a powerhouse of spirituality and motivation, asked myself and and a crowd of 1,500 gathered at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles last month to engage in Satyagraha by bearing witness to the agony of others, I took note.
Loosely translated as "insistence on truth" - satya (truth); agraha (insistence) - is the philosophy behind the practice of civil resistance. We learned we would be in great company as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced this "truth force" in their ﬁght for human rights.
Marianne welcomed us - a group mostly consisting of women and some enlightened men - to the Sister Giant conference designed to foster non-violent conversation around politics. She passionately reminded us to believe that the power of love is strong enough to base our foundation on. For if not based in love, what then? If not based in love, aren’t we failing already?
I drew in a deep inhalation, rooted into my seat in the front row and prepared to have my mind and heart blown open. My fellow conference attendees and those live streaming across the world listened to speakers discuss the issues of child hunger, mass incarceration and money's role in politics.
The statistics relating to childhood starvation and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling were overwhelming, but what truly blew me away was the situation of prisons in the United States. Over 2,266,800 adults, more than any other nation on Earth, are incarcerated in the multi-million dollar system of privatized prisons in the United States of America.
"In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at sixtimes the rate of spending on higher education. In 2011, California spent $9.6billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education..... The state spends$8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year. Why isthis happening? Prisons are a big business. Most are privately run. They havepowerful lobbyists and they have bought most state politicians. Meanwhile, weare bankrupting our states and creating a vast underclass of prisoners who willnever be equipped for productive lives."—Fareed Zakaria, CNN, March 30, 2012
This information hurts my heart and makes no sense for a nation that I consider home. Can we really be living in a system that puts more value on locking up citizens instead of educating them? How many Americans even make $50,000 a year? What if we spent that much money on prevention, not incarceration? The
Head Start program, more functioning schools, more art, more dance, more community outreach, and more leadership programs leads to less prisoners.
In 1983 the prisons became privatized, and with that came big money. I doubt we had so many more “bad eggs” in 1983 versus 1982, but as the spike shows our country began corralling more Americans at around the same time prisons went private. Four times the amount of people are incarcerated now than in the 70s, and more African American men are in prison now than were enslaved in 1850. We are creating a land of the not so free, and I believe we can do better.
Digging into the core of ourselves, our society, and our roles in this world, is deeply soulful work. Those of us that love all too often speak too softly. We as women and supporters of women are being called to be the voice of the voiceless, to mother the ones in need. Ms. Williamson reminded us to not fall asleep for we do not get a pass at ignoring other sentient beings.
The narratives that I ﬁrst tapped into at this conference are ongoing ones. Become a part of it. An easy way to join the Sister Giant National Conversation is to pick up the phone Wednesday, December 5th at 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST.
During the monthly call, Marianne Williamson will have guest speakers, updates on timely issues, and invitations for you to become involved. The calls are free, and you can sign up here. http://sistergiant.com/sistergiant/conference-calls/
There are attacks on the heart every day. Will you get off the treadmill, lower the music, and call the doctors? More importantly, will you be the doctor?
Were you at Sister Giant? If you'd like to share your story ping us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacquelyn Richey Krieger is the creator of ChakWave, organic juices inspired by the chakra system. She teaches yoga and leads people through cleanses of body, mind and spirit in Venice Beach, California where she lives with her husband and little black cat.