goodness, the violence. i don’t know the details, but may all be safe.
we must stand firm in our resolve to not succumb to aggression and violence as a resolution to even our most passionate disagreements. and we must avoid the temptation to quickly politicize and use aggression, violence, or any tragedy to advantage an agenda.
may we remember who we are, our interdependence. my we listen and try to get to the root of anger that it may be transformed and healed rather than transmitted, giving birth to more anger, aggression, and violence.
Sitting with this quote, recently: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” (by Isaac Asimov) and I thought, “Should we expand our definition of violence?”
I think we often view violence through a rather restrictive lens of war and aggressive, physical assault.However, is it truly too far a reach to suggest that words or actions that cause harm, injury, or death are also a form of violence?
Isn’t it violent to legislate healthcare out of the reach of the elderly, the poor, the ill?
Isn’t it violent to deprive food from children and the elderly, by cutting the programs on which they depend?
Isn’t it violent to marginalize an “other” (fill in the blank) virtually placing a target stirring fear and hate?
The poor, the elderly, the ill, the undocumented, the marginalized (including Muslims and LGBTQ) are easy targets for leadership that is incompetent.
We harm or we benefit.
So, what do we do?
We bear witness.We speak up.We speak truth to power.We stand and we walk in solidarity with those who suffer, the marginalized and oppressed.
But perhaps, even more importantly…
We begin with ourselves, and our own hearts and minds.Am I willing to work for resolutions in my own life that best benefit the big picture, the long arc?Am I willing to call upon my most creative and innovation potential to benefit all those around me and not just myself?Am I willing to serve?Am I willing to be vulnerable?Am I willing to understand and embrace empathy?Am I willing to love?
For those of us in the LGBTQ community, for people of color, for Muslims, for the differently abled, for women, for the immigrant, and for anyone else who feels a sense of being the “other” or oppressed, the results of this election may feel frightening and concerning. Our hearts broken, vulnerable, and tender.
Stay with this.
STAY with this. Do not cover it up, do not hide from it, do not run from it. There is no need to pretend.
This brokenness, this vulnerability, this tenderness of heart, IS our strength and our power.
It is the same strength and power imbued and made manifest throughout history by artists, peacemakers, spiritual warriors, and lovers. This is what the world needs right now. Perhaps, more than ever.
For those of us who are LGBTQ – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
For those who are people of color – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
For those who are Muslim – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
For those who are women – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
For those who are immigrants – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
For those who are differently abled – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
For those whom I may not understand, who may hold opposite views (even views I consider harmful), who also seem to be feeling frightened, disenfranchised, and angry – I love you, you are valued, you are loved.
The road ahead will surely be work. Perhaps, very difficult to work. But I vow to continue to work in service of the values and principles that define my life, my art, my writing, my spiritual practice.
I vow to continue to work in service of the same values and principles that moved me to vote for whom I continue to believe is the most qualified and representative candidate.
I vow to continue to work in service of all that speaks to the best of who we are and can be.
I vow to continue to work in service of all that opens hearts, nurtures kindness, motivates fierce compassion, elevates the “other”, and opens doors to the immigrant – the hungry -the poor.
I vow to continue to work in service of all that produces dialogue, civility, nonaggression and nonviolence.
This is what I can do, what WE can do, no matter who is President or who is in Congress or who is on the Supreme Court.
This world desperately needs healers, lovers, peacemakers – bodhisattvas.
Will we hear the cries of the world and answer the call?
a focus on process is more important than a focus on outcome. how we do things now, creates the future.
how shall we proceed? with presence, with patience, with kindness and tenderness? with compassion and generosity, with peacefulness, nonaggression and nonviolence?
will we live with and move forward with the embodiment of all we hold as principled, ethical and moral, allowing the light of love to lead the way?
or will we live in the heat of our passion and emotion? reacting rather than acting? responding to that impulse to right the wrong or perceived wrong in this moment right away without awareness, thoughtfulness, and skill?
it’s an important question we have available to us and can ask ourselves. our answer will not only affect ourselves, those close to us, and our immediate environment, but may very well have a ripple effect influencing the entire world through generations to come.
we often think and say that, with the New Year, we have a fresh start – a clean slate to make choices that are more beneficial to our lives and the lives of others.
but the truth is, it is even better than that!
a fresh start is available with each breath we take – every breath we take is an opportunity to begin anew. every breath is a new lease on life, a confirmation that we still have the opportunity to benefit ourselves and others as we continue this journey.
each new breath is a new opportunity to let go, to choose life, to choose love, to choose nonaggression and nonviolence, to speak words of encouragement, to bear witness to our suffering and the suffering of others, to act with compassion and kindness, to live generously and with grace, to laugh, to smile, to be brave in the middle of our sadness, to dive into this experience fully opening our hearts more and more, choosing to be healers to the suffering we see.
may 2016, and every breath you take, remind you that there is beauty and there is love – and that you are both of these things.
~Yoda Explains About the Force~
Yoda: A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will…
Luke: Is the dark side stronger?
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.
calling all the healers, it is your time…
to those willing to pause before reacting, to breathe before speaking, it is your time…
to those willing to lay down their weapons whether they be guns or words, it is your time…
to those willing to keep their hearts open to vulnerability and their eyes open to pain, it is your time…
this call is for you, the healers – the willing.
those willing to do and embody what is needed now to heal and not further perpetuate suffering. those who are willing to stand in the face of fear, confusion and anger to transform them, rather than be ruled by them.
even as we may understand that there are at times specific needs for military or law enforcement, let us also bring a counter balance to those who call for more guns, more violence, more anger, and more fear.
may we bring healing through our work, through our art, our words, our every breath.
“We’ve entered this new era, and we have to be planning for healing just as carefully as others are planning for destruction.” – Omid Safi
BY OMID SAFI(@OSTADJAAN), ON BEING COLUMNIST
Friends keep asking me where we find hope in these turbulent times. We don’t. We don’t find hope. We generate it.
Hope is like sanctity and community. Hope doesn’t descend down to us from heaven. It rises to heaven from right here on Earth.
As Warsan Shire says, it hurts everywhere, everywhere. As Parker Palmer says, even the healers are wounded healers.
We need to have a national and global conversation about faith that prepares us to carry on the work of healing so that we can be prepared when these atrocities hit us. This is the new normal. There are going to be Paris attacks, Beirut attacks, Baghdad attacks, Nigeria attacks, and more in the months and years to come. The work of healing is needed now, more than ever.
The atrocities are “events.” The healing has to be an ongoing, everyday journey. This healing work actually has to come before the atrocities, through the atrocities, and after the atrocities.
We’ve entered this new era, and we have to be planning for healing just as carefully as others are planning for destruction.
We’re simply, by necessity, now in an era of global processes of healing. As others have said, we’re all wounded, so we’re wounded healers now.
Everyone hurts — though not all hurt in the same way. Everyone has a role in healing — though not everyone is ready to heal.
turn, as I do so often, to the very heart of our faith traditions for hope. I remember the Qur’an saying that the ease, the healing, comes not after the difficulty but with it.
We cannot wait to be wounded before we turn to heal. We have to anticipate the healing, generate the healing, raise up the healing.
I remember Rumi’s words:
The wound is where the light enters you.
I see wounds. I see the wounded. And I see the wounders (who often carry their own wounds).
In an age when violence is broadcast widely, when the quickest way to fame is to say something vacuous and pungent How do we make the healing visible? How do we recover love as a public virtue? In the midst of this tragedy, I keep searching for hope, still my own heart to keep generating hope For myself For my children For all of us Where do we find hope? Mostly hope, courage, resistance are invisible. Hope’s never linear, rarely public, usually tender and private. Every now and then, we see examples of hope that become visible.
I want to shine a light on these moments — to remember, to rejuvenate, to recall — when the goodness shines on through, and reminds us of the need to keep generating hope.
Let me share one such moment from Paris. The moment of light is from a husband, Antoine Leiris, whose wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, was killed in the attacks. In his response, there is grace and dignity. It reminded me of Mamie Till, holding an open-casket funeral for her son Emmett, both for the world to see her suffering become public, and also to say that she had no time to hate, and would devote herself steadfast to seeking justice.
The husband released a statement to the ISIS terrorists: You have taken away the love of my life, a beautiful woman. You seek to get me to hate you, but I will not give you that satisfaction. I will not give you the satisfaction of having your hatred be mirrored in my heart. You, and your action, will not determine the kind of human being I will strive to be.
Here’s the transcript of the message from the husband, posted on Facebook. The original message was in French, here is an English translation:
“On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.
I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know — you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.
So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.
We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”
Here is what we often do not understand about the power of nonviolence in an uber-violent world. Nonviolence is not so much about “turning the other cheek” or responding to violence with a refusal to return violent action. That is simply the start. It is, simply, the minimum. It is actually more profound, as the widower husband says:
“So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.”
Real nonviolence is the adamant insistence that we will choose to live a life of dignity, beauty, and meaning. That we will not get drowned in a whirlpool of hatred and violence.
The father ends by saying that he would say more, but that he has to go take care of his toddler, a toddler that now only has one parent to raise him.
Yes, we have children to raise,
parents to love,
friends to hug,
neighbors to reach out to,
inner-cities to heal,
and refugees to shelter.
There is real work to be done, genuine healing, which we have to generate.
The truth is actually much harder, and more beautiful than a simple refusal to return violence for violence. That would be akin to cursing a dark night already devoid of stars.
To curse the darkness, to bring more anger and rage into this world, is to let the terrorists win. It is to let the terror inside our own hearts win.
Healing begins by a commitment to letting light shine. We have to generate this light, this hope this healing and mirror it to each other. Let your light shine. Let’s heal each other, fellow wounded healers. We are in this together. http://www.onbeing.org/blog/omid-safi-where-do-we-find-hope-after-paris/8164