Pigheadedness: Time for self-reflection
Stubbornness, mulishness, pigheadedness and obstinacy: My thesaurus has numerous synonyms for what holding your knee on someone’s neck for over 9 minutes describes.
Police Officer Derek Chauvin was unable to be swayed by onlookers in Minneapolis, because he was certain he was right and no one was going to tell him what to do. He demonstrated what it means to be right rather than happy.
I am sure he is sorry on some level — maybe for being found guilty, at least, but we may never know. I’m sorry for what he did and for people and children of the world to witness that horror. Evidently it was inevitable and time for the world to know the truth. He showed the incorrigible prejudicial treatment of a Black brother and the tremendous fear of authority the police present not only to Black people but to everyone. He also showed us stubborn hot anger along with zero ability to step back, take a breath and consider what he was doing.
But after reflection and being conscious of my projections, I ask myself if I have I been angered to the point of being stupid? Am I projecting my own unregulated anger and dislike onto him? Have I ever done a stupid thing in the name of thinking I’m right — like the erratic driver on the interstate weaving in and out of traffic, endangering others. Should I chase him and wave my fist in anger? Have I ever driven erratically? Sure, but I’m not proud of it.
Have I ever pinned someone down and placed my knee on their neck? That is an extreme question to ask, but we need to understand that what others do, we also are capable of — maybe not that extreme, but anger is anger, hate is hate.
We see in others what we believe we are incapable of, and it’s called projection. It was a horrid thing, but the ego part of our mind cannot be trusted. Anger cannot be trusted to do the right thing. We need to take our personal temperature. Am I upset? It is up to me to change my mind, to calm down and choose peace — or at least start to approach the doorway to it.
Consciously ask: Do I like how I feel? If Chauvin could have asked that and allowed himself a moment of insight, he could have changed his life and saved the life of George Floyd.
Stubbornness is a wonderful thing to change, and stubbornness is always of the ego, the false mind. I know policing must be hard, and they are trained to react quickly. Parents are actually in that position from time to time. We have rules in society of right and wrong, ethics, stupidly out of control. A mind can be calmed when reason, love and mercy are considered: Do I like how I feel? He had plenty of time to change his mind, nine minutes of it.
When is enough enough? Chauvin showed us what happens when the ego is in charge of a locked, dungeon-trapped mind.
Most spiritual paths and faiths ask us to give up judgment. Jesus: Judge not, that you be not judged; Buddha: Do not offend others as you would not be offended; Mohammed: None of you are true believers until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.
When we prejudge we separate ourselves from others. It is like holding a knee on their neck. We trap them with our mind. Sure, they can breathe, but we limit them by our thoughts when we could offer acceptance instead, and we could both breathe. We see them as the ego or false self rather than the spirit of light and love that we all are, and share.
The amazing truth is that the entire world watched and knew what Chauvin did was horribly wrong. The goodness and innate ethics embedded in our soul knew what was right. By looking at his pigheadedness we can see our own and choose another way. I am hopeful because it means the many versions of the Golden Rule are alive and well and working in the world.
Sally McKirgan facilitates the inner peace column and “A Course In Miracles” study group. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.