On Kindness Yoga Closing, Cultures of Racism, and Other Happenings in Denver and The World (NC-17)

Since about eight people have asked me my opinion I thought I’d weigh in on Kindness Yoga closing, and begin to address the systemic culture of racism that permeates our national culture.

I’m going to start by saying something wildly unpopular…

Patrick Harrington – Founder/Owner of Kindness Yoga – is a good dude.

Dangerous to stand up for a straight-acting, white guy these days.

Lucky for me, I’m part Cherokee and enjoy sucking d!ck occasionally.

Before you get too excited – or titillated – consider the idea that my sexual preferences and identities in no way give my opinions greater relevancy…the same way that my Native heritage gives no greater credibility to my views regarding the current political crisis.

Both presumptions are limiting, inhibitory, and, frankly, unwelcome.

I don’t often discuss my sexual history simply because it is no one’s business.

Back to Patrick…

Patrick and I have been at odds many times, but we’ve always come back to a lasting friendship precisely because we respect the fact that a person can hold an opposing opinion and still be a good person.

He’s also one of few people I don’t hesitate to kiss on the face when I see them. (Come to think of it, Patrick may be as pan/queer as I or any of us are, really)

That said, I quit teaching at Kindness Yoga…twice. Both times for one good reason – my authentic voice cannot be caged by a yoga studio…or, a jail cell for that matter.

One of the most dangerous things we can do as a reform culture that aims to include everyone LGBTQI+, Straight, BIPOC, Asians, White, Yellow, Female, Green, Blue, Purple, and Brown, etc. is to confuse proximal with ultimate causes.

There’s a devil out there and his name isn’t Patrick Harrington…it’s Uncle Fuckin’ Sam. It’s the machine that demands that our youngest and most impressionable go kill and die in wars fought in the sand over oil, profit and dominance.

I say none of this out of malicious radicalism by the way, but from a, likely, misguided attempt to inform – after all, ya’ll asked me what I thought. At the end of the day I am not only pan-sexual (and single I should mention), I am a-political

I will not vote between two shoddy copies of each other, for Joe Biden, like Trump and indeed all who would seek power, are just as equally rascally…

Just as cops and criminals share so much in common, so too do our leaders really just reside on different sides of the same politically and morally bankrupt coin…it’s just that one happens to wear a red tie and the other a blue one. It doesn’t matter who sleeps in the White House, their aim is the same – to control us, use us, and profit by us…it doesn’t matter who wears a cop’s costume – they are all prepared to brutalize all of us.

What I think is that Plato was right, “Only those who would not seek power are qualified to wield it.”

Leaders should be drafted against their will, grudgingly going into the breech to serve instead of willingly triumphing for their own profit.

And that goes double for our would-be spiritual leaders.

Good for you Jorden Smiley and Courageous Yoga for taking the reigns and taking action.

If we want our power back then we’re going to need to fucking take it.

Since we’re on the topic of taking action let’s not defund the police…let’s the majority of us refuse to pay our income tax on July 15th and not fund them in the first place – minus a paycheck the police won’t come get you out of the goodness of their hearts…they won’t buy their own bullets and handcuffs…

Vehicle taxes can pay for roads, marijuana sales tax for schools, medical care, and other communal necessities…we can devise systems to pay for them directly as citizens through streamlined processes with minimal layers of bureaucracy much like a Go Fund Me campaign works.

I love you, yogis, but if you think that posting a blacked-out screen makes you an activist you are sorely mistaken. Reposting someone’s clever comment on white privilege doesn’t make you more enlightened or absolved of it…

Bloggers and social media and would-be influencers of the world – timeliness is not godliness. Be like Eckhart Tolle, or my grandpa, slow to speak – take so much time people think you’ve gone to sleep.

You want to take action? Take a page out of the book of my ancestors The Hetrick’s who fought in the revolutionary war – what brought down the British was not disorganized chaos, but the coordinated refusal to fund tyranny.

Don’t pay your taxes on July 15th or next April, or ever again.

Fact is most people willingly choose comfort over change, and will continue to sacrifice authenticity for conformity until it kills this planet and maybe them.

Don’t believe everything you read. In fact, don’t believe anything you read especially if it is on a screen. At least take the time to scroll someone’s feed and see what they were up to before black lives started mattering to them…

Before we crucify Patrick we might want to consider what else was out there…I’m waiting with baited breath to hear what locations CorePower strategically uses COVID to close or open, and actively rooting for ClassPass to bite it – they will both be the definitive death of independently owned yoga and represent a much more dire threat to inclusivity in this white-dominated industry.

I don’t care if it cracks the economy – reparations need to be paid, and native lands returned…all of them. This economy was built on stolen land, and on the backs of Blacks.

While we’re on the topic, women of every color deserve a government check for the way that they’ve been treated too.

Fact is, America is a nation ran by pathetic bullies. The out-of-touch, white men that rule us borrow all over the world (China mostly), malign and mistreat their citizens, and then bully their way out of coming through on their debts.

Always have come to think of it…

I’m not hopeful for the long range story of America, but I am also holding space in my heart that this is the hour of its greatest triumph.

And in watching Patrick’s humble, remorseful – even admirable – response to the ‘feedback’ he’s receiving I do have long term hope…for him.

I have the great fortune to still call Patrick Harrington my dear friend. To count on his counsel within a pseudo-cooperative (fake community) industry when times are tough and I have been in consistent communication with him while all of this has occurred…

Let me tell you one thing he said to me before the state ordered all yoga studios (but no liquor stores) to close.

“J, we’re closing regardless because one person teaching to one person in a room is too dangerous for those two people.”

Before this crisis, I watched him for years genuinely try to do his best mostly for LGBTQI+ yogis in this exclusive, lily-white dominated yoga mecca of Denver, CO and his story should be honored in its totality, for its failings and its successes, and its unique and admirable attempts.

Let us not busy ourselves with lambasting a truly kind man doing his best. One who, at least, tried to prioritize public health over profit, for those people are few and far between no matter the color of their skin or supposed gender.

Instead let’s spend our time upsetting the board of this rigged game at its very foundation, this game that is rigged to ensure that white men of relative privilege win. It doesn’t matter if Boardwalk changes hands if we’re still playing on the same Monopoly board.

Patrick’s oversights at the helm of Kindness were economic and symptomatic of a broken system that forces even good people to prioritize profits over people.

People in general and yogis specifically have a short memory, but I for one remember when his Capitol Hill studio was one of the first in the country to change the bathrooms to invite gender and identity neutrality, and I personally comped many people into my classes at Kindness who were in dire need of it.

Still he did fall victim to Imperial Overstretch (even I questioned when he opened directly across the street from a CorePower location – if they’d done that to him, they would be clear villains). Growing too quickly dictated that he hire under-qualified managers whose ilk make similar mistakes at studios worldwide.

His failures are as much a mark of our own ignorance to the systemic failures of the selfsame imperial actions of our own bully-government.

One real tragedy witnessed within the Kindness Yoga microcosm is that we’ve been getting fucked with for so long, that we’ve come to believe that we’re the ones fucking with each other…

A lot of yogis out there seem to have forgotten that this practice is not about how great your hand stand is, but how big your capacity for forgiveness is.

Now, this is not the same thing as suggesting we forget all of this…in fact, the opposite.

I have, for example, forgiven Officer Mark McCann of the Englewood Police Department who handcuffed me and beat me, but I will never forget that injustice.

I disagree with Sam Harris’ very worthy podcast when he references Max Weber, stating that, “the monopoly of the use of violence by the state was the best thing to ever happen to humanity”.

After the advent of agriculture, I think that the creation of The State by The State and for the benefit of The State was the second worst event to happen to modern humanity.

None of us living agreed to this archaic characteristic of governance.

I do agree with Sam Harris, though, when he asserts that the ability to converse about severely opposed ideas is paramount to our survival as a republic – it would be unfortunate to have to learn Chinese, after all…

Make no mistake, a reckoning is coming…and notes are being made of the cowards and hypocrites…the performance activists and rich-white-male apologists…their day will come…

Ours will too.

How we forgive and how we rebuild after it does is ultimately what will define us…after we take back that which has been denied us.

Whatever wisdom can be gained between ‘us’ is gained precisely because we’re not perfect and we’re not the same…that Patrick and I can get past that is proof that we can all get past that…

There’s good everywhere…if you’re willing to look for it.

There’s bad too.

Go find the bad, yogis. Root it out where you find it. And take your power back.

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Justin “Jud” Kaliszewski is the best-selling yoga teacher and renowned creator of Outlaw Yoga. Author. Artist. Adventurer. Though his studio is currently closed per state order, you can still take his class NOW at outlawyogaclub.com and www.youtube.com/outlawyoga. Find his writing and art at www.justinkaliszewski.com and his presence all over the internet – for an outlaw, he’s shockingly easy to get ahold of.