The Right to Refuse Service
United We Stand
Sarah and the Red Hen
Recently (Friday, June 22, 2018, according to news reports), White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.
According to the owner of the restaurant, the Red Hen, Sanders was politely asked to leave because of her work defending President Trump and his policies. A report on CNN said Stephanie Wilkinson, the Red Hen's Owner, held a press conference on Saturday morning, saying that, "This feels like a moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals."
In response, Sanders tweeted on her official White House twitter account @PressSec, "Last night I was told by the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so."
You Are Not Guaranteed Service
What Does the Law Say?
Under federal anti-discrimination laws, businesses can refuse service to any person for any reason, unless the business is discriminating against a protected class. Protected classes include discrimination based on gender, race, religion, color or national origin.
Under these guidelines, the restaurant had every right to ask Sanders to leave, as they did not cite any of these reasons.
In fact, any restaurant or business establishment can refuse to serve you, so long as they don't state that they are doing so because of your protected class. Even if you are a member of a protected class, someone could refuse you service, and not say why. They could, for example, refuse to serve me because I am a woman. But if I asked why, they wouldn't need to state that reason. They could say they are refusing service because they don't like me, or they don't like my car, or they could just say no.
But where does that leave us as a country?
We Have Divided Ourselves
United We Stand One and All
Divided We Fall
The United States, and much of the rest of the world, has slipped into a crazy, contentious, and angry place, where reason is hotly debated and ridiculed.
In this place, where people segregate themselves to make a point, we completely disregard our own humanity.
Sanders, arguably, is getting a taste of her own medicine. Perhaps, in the real world, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a genuinely kind and compassionate person, who internally dislikes the things she must say for her job. Perhaps in the real world, she is just a nice lady.
And yet. The federal government, for which she is a spokesperson, continues a divisive message. People are arrested and detained and divided. Lives are destroyed. Although Sanders may not personally agree with every policy put out by the White House, publicly she must speak the lines given her. And if she is a kind and compassionate person, it must eat at her gut. And her heart.
There are still people dying at the hands of reckless police officers every day. There are still anxious and angry people lashing out at others for perceived differences in color, culture and constitution. Mostly, people are lashing out because they are afraid. People use police as a weapon to destroy others, rather than as partners to serve and protect. People strike to hurt and conquer others, when the darkness they fear pursues them from the inside.
When a culture, a civilization, a nation and a world react in fear, then fear increases. When we act out of anger, then anger increases. When we act with divisive intent, then division increases.
As we divide, we weaken. Our fear and anger make us weak. From this place of weakness, we do not build a community or a country, things only continue to fall further into the abyss.
Do Something Good
Create a Culture of Compassion
The world is a scary place. Anger and fear seem to dominate the political and cultural landscape, not only in the United States, but around the globe. People are angry, afraid and hurting.
The task ahead appears daunting. We can serve others and change to world one moment at a time. Or, we can reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason. And that, too, will change the world one moment at a time.
The truth is, we have no more rights than the rights of those we deny. When we withhold love, compassion and mercy from others, they are withheld from us. When we deny justice, truth and life to those around us, those things will be taken from us as well.
What you fear, you create. What you deny, you do not receive. Rather than seeing the world in a restrictive, limiting and fearful place, let's try a change of perspective. We each have an opportunity, in this moment, to be peace. To be love. To be compassion. To experience abundance.
Take a deep breath. As you inhale, acknowledge all the rights and opportunities abundant in your life. As you exhale, share that energy with everyone. Release rights, opportunity and abundance to others. Inhale peace, joy and compassion for yourself, then exhale those same things to everyone.
Love All. Serve All.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Change begins on a cellular level. It then moves to an individual level. Then to the community, the country, and ultimately to the entire world. One new thought, created by you, has the power to change the world.
I end every day with a lovingkindness meditation I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh. It takes several minutes, and provides an excellent opportunity to quiet the mind after a busy day. In addition, this practice allows you the space to share love with yourself and others. With our love and compassion, we can change the world.
Begin with your eyes closed, breathing deeply, noticing the breath. Then you can say the meditation out loud, or in your head. Begin the meditation with yourself. Next, think on the people you love. You can name individuals if you'd like, or think about whoever comes to mind. Sometimes I name all of my children. Sometimes I think about my children, family and friends as a general group.
Then think of people about whom you are neutral. This might include coworkers, acquaintances or people that you know but aren't friends with. In my case, I name my three ex-husbands. I don't dislike them. I feel neutral toward them. This practice, over the years, has helped me release my anger, and my victimization toward these relationships.
Next, think of your enemies. Although you might think you have no enemies, there may be people who irritate or annoy you. And, there are probably people out there who don't like you. You can meditate on them too.
Finally, as you complete the last round of the meditation, think of every one. All people. Children. Adults. Arabs. Christians. Lions. All sentient beings deserve love, peace and compassion.
The Metta Meditation
Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation:
(Repeat several times, beginning with yourself, then people you love, people you are neutral toward, people you dislike, and ending with everyone.)
May I be peaceful, happy and light, in body, mind and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, affliction, fear and anxiety.
After you say all three lines, using the word "I", then start over, using the names of people you love, continue until you are meditating on all sentient beings.
Guided Metta Meditation
A Final Call to Action
What we think, we are. What we do, we become. In each moment, we have an opportunity to start over, to think a fresh thought, to see the world anew, and to share love one more time.
Change begins first in thinking. Next, let our words and our thoughts reflect our internal condition of love, peace and compassion. When thinking and speaking are shared, we then begin to act from a place of peace, love and compassion. When our thoughts, words and deeds are harmonious, then we are living the truth of who we really are. With that, you can change the world.