Archimedes asked for a place to stand, whereby he could apply a lever to move the earth. We are still looking for such a place. This was an easier question before we learned that earth and the whole universe is in constant motion. Even using an earth-centric model, we would still be looking for such a place. Astrophysicists may yet find such a place to stand, in either ancient or current modeling of the universe. In such a case, there would need to be as difficult a task to develop the material for a lever able to handle the stresses its appointed work would require. Presuming there would be something a material-scientist could come up with and a corporation would fund, there may be a limit of whether there is enough such material in the universe to use for this purpose. Beyond these physical limits are transportation questions—“How do we arrive at the appointed place (presumably light-years away)?” and “How is the lever positioned or the materials delivered for on-site construction?”
Archimedes’ thought experiment may never be put to a test of its scale. Closer to home is a question of moving heads and hearts, if not the earth. We have plenty of folks who find all manner of places to stand in an attempt to mold the world in their present image. Anywhere can be a place from which to stand and declare, “I can do no other!” Current conditions can be perpetuated from anywhere—from a tavern or an executive office (both have addictive possibilities). Innumerable fences can be constructed to protect ever-smaller spots of supposed stasis, but, like earth-centric models, they erode and fail new situations.
To reverse engineer the latest opportunity to move heads and hearts regarding the stuck and false model of racism—we must look for a slightly larger place from which to engage, right here on earth, in our current locations. Extra room is needed when standing becomes kneeling.
The action of “kneeling” used in Minneapolis to continue dividing the world from itself and meant for disrespect, control of another, and a banal exercise of power, is now being used to proclaim what matters (Black Lives), freedom from structural violence, and conversation toward community.
Archimedes proposed a moment of change—a place to stand, a fulcrum and lever appropriate to the task, a flick of a finger, and earth moves. Kneelers today affirm a persistent process aware of the temptation to lose focus, be distracted by economic fluctuations, and backslide one more time. May each of us use the levers of empathy and energetic commitment that are always available to us—changing our heads and hearts to clear kneeling space.
Blessings as you find your space—larger than a belligerent stand and smaller than a pandemic 6-foot rule—space enough to enjoy a Neighb*r.