I Can’t Breathe

On Monday George Floyd died after being brutally abused by a member of the Minneapolis Police. Even after George screamed that he could not breathe the policeman would not pull up his knee from the defenseless men’s neck. These violent actions are pretty much alive in many parts of the world. Masses of women in Latin America suffer from physical partner violence every day, every year. (PAHO 2014).This very second you are reading this, people in the world are suffering because of someone’s beliefs, thoughts, and actions. It is very difficult to really comprehend how much cruelty is happening in the world until something horrible happens to you or someone you truly love with all your heart. There is one foundational cause for all this madness, a dualistic worldview, believing that we are different and we are separated from each other.

Worldview is the set of beliefs that guides or determines our comprehensive outlook on the world (Oxford English Dictionary). Worldview is basically what we believe as true in the universe. Every single person on the planet has a worldview that drives his or her beliefs, values, and actions. The presence of violence all around the world suggests that some worldviews are creating beliefs that fuel horrific actions like killing a human being. It is critical that we address these issues because a dualistic worldview not only allows cruel acts to exist but also promotes negative mindsets of domination and oppression. (Oliver 2001) 

In the article Creating an Ethic of Love in the Realm of Education Through Buddhism and Ubuntu, Robinson Morrison argues he has a solution to this dualistic worldview, Radical Love in Education. In his own words:

Radical love, in education and in life, mandates a revolutionary becoming; that is it mandates the totality of one’s subjectivity undergo a transformation of values toward righteous action, mutual care, and recognition that there is no Other.

In the article, he shows the contrast between Western society worldviews and older South African Ubuntu Philosophy and Eastern philosophy of Buddhism. An examination of the self (the subject) is made through the lenses of these philosophies. Different from western views Ubuntu and Buddhism notions of the self only exist in recognition from others. In Ubuntu ‘a person is a person through other people (Eze 2010). In Buddhism everything is interconnected between you-I, (there is no and) we are one same and actually, we are all the cosmos, including nature, trees, and moons. Imagine everybody thinking they are the Earth, we might take better care of it. Ubuntu and Buddishm’s philosophies offer one part of the solution Robinson claims. The second part of the solution is Radical Love. The article makes emphasizes that love can be learned and that certain elements are essential for the love to be powerful. There are four elements:

Love and Kindness with a deep understanding of the other situation. This requires high levels of empathy and awareness. 

Compassion practiced through mindfulness. Compassion will give you the capacity to understand the suffering of others. ‘’Love in Action’’

Joy is the third element and is also practice through mindfulness. Joy is the peace and contentment deeply felt in relationships with others. (Hahn 1999)

The last element is Equanimity which is described as loving everyone equally. 

Should Education shift its attention completely to these elements? Should Education pay more attention to the worldviews that foster duality inside the system?

According to Thich Nhat Hanh:

Love is understanding called by another name, it easy to view education—the act and practice of acquiring knowledge toward deeper understanding—as one of the primary means through which come to be, know, and do love in communion with others. Along with the home, the schoolhouse—as we imagine what it must become, but is not yet—must be a place where we learn how to love, to cultivate the mind of love, and practice care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication”  

In the end, all we really need is Love so cultivate it with kindness, compassion, and equanimity from this very moment onwards, and if you are thinking about how to treat others remember there are no others. 



  • Oxford English Dictionary 


  • Pan American Health Organization


  • Oliver, K. (2001). Witnessing: Beyond recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


  • Robinson, M (2015) Radical Love: Creating an Ethic of Love in the Realm of Education Through Buddhism and Ubuntu


  • Hanh, T. H. (1999). The heart of the Buddha’s teaching: Transforming suffering into peace, joy, and liberation. New York: Broadway Books.


  • Hanh, T. H. (2015). How to love. Berkeley: Parallax
  • Eze M.O. (2010) Ubuntu: Many Voices of a History. In: Intellectual History in Contemporary South Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, New York  https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230109698_6


6 thoughts on “I Can’t Breathe

  1. Hi Arturo, this is such an important topic that needs to be taken very seriously. It is sickening to hear of these types of things happening everyday in the world today. Each person does have their own worldview on things but if we can teach our youth in schools how to love one another regardless of their race, gender, and ethnicity than I believe we can gradually help make the world a better place. I really liked what you touched on about Buddhism beliefs about everyone being one with the world. We don’t own the earth, we are children to the earth and we need to learn to respect and cherish it.

    Children from young ages internalize messages about power and privilege relating to gender, race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and language, which they perpetuate through their play and talk (Ryan & Grieshaber, 2004). When teaching early childhood programs such as preschool and primary, it is critical for teachers to address injustice and develop equity-based method of teaching because children form ideas about fairness and their own sense of identity within the larger world during these early years (Boutte, 2008). Respecting diversity in the classroom requires teachers to look at all students with interest and openness, and utilize flexibility when providing instruction (Swafford & Dainty, 2010).

    Diversity is so important and needs to be respected in the classroom. School is a place where students learn how to treat fellow classmates, learn to read and write, and learn about history and culture. We need to teach the upcoming generation how to respect and be kind to each other no matter the race, gender, and ethnicity because they will become the next lawyers, police officers, prime ministers, health care workers and teachers (and more) of this world.


    Click to access dld-socialjustice.pdf



  2. Arturo this was a really interesting read. I can’t say I completely agree that there are no others as you stated but I can agree with the idea behind it, I think it goes along with the saying of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” to have empathy and compassion for what a person is going through.

    When diving into this topic of kindness and compassion in schools, one study done in British Columbia researched the topics of school culture and school climate, school climate being how students perceive their school. They found that when looking at the perception of kindness in schools that fourth grade students had as opposed to eighth grade students, the younger students had a much higher perception of kindness (Binfet et al., 2016). This makes me think that maybe when students are young, kindness and compassion are being stressed in classrooms but as they get older the importance is lacking. Either that or teacher’s stop addressing behaviours and attitudes that are opposite of love, compassion, kindness and respect. An issue that should be addressed or further studied for sure!

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Binfet, J. T., Gadermann, A. M., & Schonert‐Reichl K. A. (2016). Measuring kindness at school: Psychometric properties of a school kindness scale for children and adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 53(2), 111-126. Doi: 10.1002/pits.21889


  3. First, thank you for speaking up about an important topic. There needs to be more compassion and love, with less ignorance to protect ones sense of self or imagined identities.
    When I was in education reform council in school they briefly addressed race and how it’s something we learn to see as we age, so I believe you are on the right track with universal all-encompassing love and a shift away from dualistic perceptions. I think not just in childhood classrooms but across the board topics like anti-racism, more truth about on our past and appropriation (with indigenous peoples here especially), trauma informed teaching and alternative worldviews should be part of education. . teach people that we are all human beings by exposing prejudice so the individual can recognize and assess their outlook instead of unknowingly comply. Love is a universal language.
    I found a recent study that quoted the same thing from That Nhat Hanh:
    “Thich Nhat Hanh (1991) proposed a notion of Engaged Buddhism that emphasizes a relational dimension of life in which subject, society, and nature are one. To live in contact with oneself in a fully mindful way is to live with the others and “in the world.” Thich Nhat Hanh (1992a) stated: “the miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment” (p. 7). For Buddhism, there is no separation between “I” and “the other,” as all things are impermanent. All, in this sense, are circumstantial. A state of oneness perception is experienced via meditation practice which can lead an individual to the experience of mindfulness,” (Neves-Pereira et al., 2018). The study goes onto explore the contributions of Buddhism on psychology, it calls for “Parental and educational strategies need to be geared toward the development of qualities such as resilience, self-regulation, responsiveness, compassion, and connection with nature,” and supports many of the other things you have written about, like empathy: “The ego sense is rarely questioned in the therapeutic field. Questions in this regard are usually directed at the functionality and efficiency of the way individuals experience their identity. The attempt to refine this sense of identity, divesting it from dysfunctional beliefs about oneself, and consequently increasing its functionally, is certainly a laudable aim. However, a different perspective emerges from a cardinal motivation behind the Buddhist view, namely to think more about the well-being of others than of one’s own well-being. This motivation opens a field for empathetic and deeply compassionate experiences, in such a way that deepening into meditation with a view to the happiness of others enables the experience of love.”

    I’m glad to see the acknowledgement of Buddhist contribution to modern psychotherapy because I think it’s overlooked by many, as well as your application to consider a worldview and perspective that could provide relief to some of our biggest, most heartbreaking issues today. Thank you

    Neves-Pereira, M. S., Carvalho, Marco Aurélio Bilibio de, & Aspesi, C. d. C. (2018). Mindfulness and buddhism: Contributions of buddhist philosophical and religious teachings to the fields of psychology and education. Gifted Education International, 34(2), 144-154. doi:10.1177/0261429417716347

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Arturo,

    This was a great topic for you to talk about and thank you for acknowledging what is going on in our world today, yesterday and for hundreds of years but yet we can’t seem to grasp that there’s an actual issue. it’s important to note that no child is born knowing everything, just like we’re taught math, science, and English. In a study done on creating a culture of tolerance in schools, “75% of the students surveyed indicated that on a regular basis they had seen or heard a racially motivated confrontation”, while another 35% of the students reported seeing hate-related graffiti at school (Stevens & Charles, 2005) and yet nothing was done about the issue.

    Children are also taught to hate. We’re not inherently born choosing black or white, you’re not born full of discrimination and bias for a person that breathes the same air and bleeds blood just like you. So my question is, where does this come from? this learned behaviour and is our education actually teaching us real fundamental knowledge. Yes, I graduated high school and now a university, I know a lot of random facts, I memorized the square root of PI, I can tell you a couple common diagnosis when it comes to psychology. But that’s not enough, how can you go through proper police schooling and training, but fail to understand that you strangled a man to death with your bodyweight…

    Anyhow you are totally correct our education system should be paying more attention to the worldviews that foster duality inside the system. However having teachers be at the front line of everything, they can teach, direct, and implement strategies for students to be best educated and acknowledge the diversity within their schools and society. So those children can then grow to be better and more compassionate individuals.

    Pfeifer, J. H., Brown, C. S., & Juvonen, J. (2007). Prejudice Reduction in Schools: Teaching Tolerance in Schools–Lessons Learned since Brown v. Board of Education about the Development and Reduction of Children’s Prejudice. Social Policy Report. Volume 21, Number 2. Society for Research in Child Development.

    Schofield, J. W. (1989). Black and White in School: Trust, Tension, or Tolerance?.

    Stevens, R., & Charles, J. (2005). Preparing teachers to teach tolerance. Multicultural Perspectives, 7(1), 17-25.


  5. Hello Arturo, I think you covered a very relevant topic that continues to grow in society. The importance of your blog should not also be understated, because it is clearly an issue that has been going on for a long time, with many people affected. The news of Goerge Floyd was one of great sadness and anger for a lot of people. I was personally distraught at the horrific video and even more so of the idea of the hatred perspectives that sometimes consumes this world. I like your approach of explaining some of the issues with the values of different cultures. In times of confusion and disparity, I think it is important that we broaden our scope of understanding and receptiveness to each other. Your questions regarding the roles of schools to promote open minded ideologies is hard to answer. However, Carolissen and Bozalek (2017) addressed the importance of consulting with disenfranchised students’ knowledge to break up the harmful dominant views and embrace processes of inclusion in higher education.

    Carolissen, R., & Bozalek, V. (2017). Addressing dualisms in student perceptions of a historically white and black university in south africa. Race Ethnicity and Education: Building the Antiracist University, 20(3), 344-357. doi:10.1080/13613324.2016.1260229


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