As I reflect on the life of Yuri Kochiyama, woman*warrior*activist* advocate*educator*healer (perhaps most unknown for her close friendship with Malcolm X), I am humbled by the creed she created to live by at eighteen years old and continues to live by.
“To live a life without losing faith in God, my fellowmen, and my country; to never sever the ties between any institution or organization that I have been a small part; to never break one link of friendship, regardless of the time or distance that separates me from that friend, even if that friendship is only a memory stored away in my heart and mind.
“To never humiliate or look down on any person, group, creed, religion, nationality, race, employment, or station in life, but rather to respect.
“To always keep in mind, that any opportunities, achievement, or happiness I have had, I owe to someone else; to be grateful for whatever has come my way through the aid of another, to repay every kindness, but should such a circumstance not arise, to pass it on to someone else.
“To love everyone; to never know the meaning of hate, or have one enemy. (An enemy, to me, is only created in one’s mind). Should another dislike me or hate me because of some of my weaknesses, my actions, or what I have said, or how I have felt, or through prejudice, I will accept it without resentment, but all the while I will do all in my personality to better my ways and make myself acceptable . . .
It is my philosophy of life.
Dear Heavenly Father -- Help me live it.”
I am also reminded of the Toltec (“women and men of knowledge” known throughout southern Mexico thousands of years ago) philosopher, Don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote the practical guide to personal freedom adhering to “the four agreements”:
“Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
"Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
To be a warrior in today’s world is a challenge amidst a wealth of personalities, egos, and motivations. What is most challenging is creating livable expectations for us, ones that are achievable and within our realm of sensing ourselves, that is, knowing our inner selves so that our self-awareness is its deepest. While I consider myself to have strong principles, it is difficult to live them devoid of any negativity especially when thick hazes of comparisons, acts of wishful thinking, and bouts of self-indulgence surround us. Yet, the very act of living day-to-day can be powerful and successful so long as I can live and act with integrity.
From hereon, I declare my own citizen values that enable me to be a peaceful warrior. As a citizen of the world, I strive . . .
To act with enthusiasm, compassion, and honesty so that every action is one of integrity.
To make no judgments so that I might learn what the strengths are of each individual with whom I interact.
To regret no decision, act, or situation because there is a lesson to be learned from every relationship and circumstance.
To seek answers without vengeance, but for the sake of improving myself, supporting others, or enriching a situation.
To communicate with love and peace so that social justice and community prevail.
It is these principles that I struggle to live by, so that I might be a better person to myself and others and live in constant wonder of humanity.