Saturday, August 29, 2015

When Falsely Accused....

He is homeless and people think he stole money from a community center donation envelope so they want to ban him. He is my friend so I bought him groceries and we took refuge from a tropical storm in an empty Miami parking garage. He is my lesson so I remembered the Buddhist perspective of what the mind goes through when it feels 'persecuted.' 

I remember a few incidents of being 'falsely accused' and how awful it feels, like you want to scream but you know no one will believe you because an opinion has been formed that is largely independent of your actions. In the second grade at Highland Oakes Elementary lunch table I was accused of stealing someone's lunch. I became conscious of being the only black person at a table and not being anywhere near the alleged crime. It was my first odd experience of 'wait, what? Who is this person you speak of who steals white girl's lunches and lies?' 

For my inability to confess the crime and produce another lunch I got yelled at in front of other students and detention. She later found her lunch, which she had misplaced. Even though I wasn't near her, she assumed I must have stolen it. There was no apology issued. It was the first significant schism when I realized 'wait, people think I did something despite no evidence. And they are going to punish me based upon an opinion which is not proved in anything.' 

Everyone has these moments throughout their lives whether they are black or white, male or female, rich or poor. It is a test. It is an awful trial.. I reacted badly and told the girl 'I wish I would have stolen your lunch' before knocking her bag to the ground. Since that time I have been given many more opportunities to react in different ways to new and strange accusations. I hope I have shown my character in not letting false accusations drag me out of my centered self. I told my friend that -no matter what he has done and no matter how people treat him- I hope he doesn't let these accusations bring out the need for revenge, hatred, or -even worse- the final surrender of thinking 'maybe I should be as bad as they think I am.'

The storm passed. We hugged and he walked off into the light drizzle.

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