check yourself, before you wreck yourself…and others.
on the death of Justice Scalia and the celebration by some of loss and tragedy…
I think this is important.
the ability to disagree passionately, to oppose perhaps with rigor and defend what one feels is just and right, working to unravel what one feels is harmful in another’s opinions and actions. all the while, not forgetting a shared humanity. all the while, still seeking a place of common ground, a place to connect, to meet and find resolution.
in my life, in who I am, with what I believe, I have encountered many (some of whom are friends and relatives) who are in opposition to these things and even work against them. this can be hurtful and even cause harm. but they are not the enemy. the enemy may be ignorance, it may be fear, it may be harmful religion or politics, but not them.
I made the choice a long time ago, I could view these things as burdens, unfair and unjust. or, I could see them as opportunities to teach that there is another way. a way of love and openness.
It has been said that our “enemies” (strong wording with unfortunate resonance…perhaps read as those in opposition to you) are our greatest teachers. it can be they who challenge us to rise and rise, thereby benefitting this world.
all of this is transitory. we all love and care deeply. we will all age, break down and weaken. we will all get sick and have pain. we will experience loss and heartache. we will all die and our loved ones will grieve and weep. this is our shared journey.
let us rise.
Why do I consider it so crucial to balance the outer aspects of nonviolence and compassion with the inner support of contemplative practice? Because in the end, all politics are local, and we cannot love life and humanity if we do not love each other, one on one.
~ Lama Surya Das
In all likelihood, the environmental crises we will encounter in the coming decades and probably centuries will bring great upheavals and immense suffering. It is all so hard to wrap one’s mind around because the problem is unprecedented in magnitude. At the same time, we have the whole history of human wisdom to draw upon in making our choices and taking action. The defining question of our age will be how we meet the calamities we will face, and how we will act to mitigate them and find our virtue in confronting them. The stakes couldn’t be higher, yet as human beings, we are not only expert in creating misery, we are also expert in working to resolve it. Both legacies, and the ability to choose which to follow, belong to us.
– James Shaheen, “Choosing Wisdom in the Face of Peril”
with a 24 hour news cycle that often puts a spotlight on what can be negative and destructive results of human choice and action, it is important to also open our eyes and draw attention to our beauty. a beauty manifest from what can be great bravery in harrowing circumstances, drawn from the compassion that lives in our hearts. these photos do show some of the ugly – but the majority bear witness to the beauty that arises from courageous souls connecting to our humanity, making a different choice, to end suffering.
“I hold my face in my two hands. No, I am not crying. I hold my face in my two hands to keep the loneliness warm – two hands protecting, two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my sould from leaving me in anger.”
“…remember: man is not our enemy…the only thing worth of you is compassion – invincible, limitless, unconditional. Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
December 14th 2013
here we are. a year later.
my heart is still clinging to the lost lives of 20 innocent children. see their faces. know their faces. children who someday may have been artists, doctors, teachers, scientists, or parents with children of their own. what inventions have we missed out on? how many discoveries will have to wait? how many inspired dreams will look to find a new home – a new vehicle of birth into this world?
questions, we’ll never know the answer to.
6 innocent adults died that day as well. see their faces, know their faces.
bodies beyond recognition.
and a lone gunman also lost, even it seems before his horrific actions of that day. see his face, know his face.
such a tragedy, such a dark moment. 27 lives lost, and how many more disturbingly wounded?
and here we are a year later with not much more than our grief, our frustration, and a polarized people frozen in their views. aren’t we better than this?
we must get to a place where we can listen – listen. where we can dialogue without scapegoating the mentally ill, without scapegoating the media, without scapegoating responsible gun ownership. we must open our awareness to recognize that the issue of violence in our culture runs much deeper than any vehicle in which it is carried out. we must open our awareness to recognize that the issue of violence in our culture is much more subtle and therefore insidious than quick quotes or talking points that serve as distraction from the deep listening, the deep looking, the deep contemplation that is needed to bring healing and wholeness to our broken attempts at problem solving and our inability to find balance between privileges and rights. we must be open to seeing how violence lives not only in our actions, but in our words and thoughts…we must look to where this violence is born and how it feeds.
we must come to a place where the news of 20 massacred children at an elementary school stops us cold in our tracks, convicting our hearts into a response so urgent, so necessary that it calls upon our betters selves to deep reflection that motivates us into action. not action out of reaction and fear or hatred or bitterness, but action out of empathy, out of interdependence and sense of community. it must be action out of compassion to end suffering at all costs, not perpetuation through the same deluted ideas and philosphies. action that says – these lives, our children’s lives – life itself – is worth more than the pitiful energy we have given them so far.
if we can’t get to this place, this place of necessary coming together, this place that recognizes the shared responsibility we have in honoring what we so often and emptily claim as sacred – life, then i do believe more is at risk than any rights or privileges. i do believe we are at risk of not only losing the very heart and soul of this country, but what is the unique manifestation of the divine that is us – our humanity.
life will go on, of course. it always goes on.
but if we fail to rise to this challenge, to open our wounded hearts, to stand in the face of violence, to look into the eyes of fear –
life very well may look to another vessel with which it can share love, seeing no vacancy in hearts that already have a love affair with violence.
and then we will finally know what it is to be in hell, because we will have chosen to hold it in our closed hearts.