in response to the President, some wisdom from Thomas Merton. and may we, my friends, substitute “Christian” as “human” and/or “humane and sane” because all of us need to participate in this mission no matter our spiritual tradition or of we have no spiritual tradition.
“(the) task is to work for the total abolition of war. There can be no question that unless war is abolished, the world will remain constantly in a state of madness and desperation in which, because of the immense destructive power of modern weapons, the danger of catastrophe will be imminent and probable at every moment everywhere. The church must lead the way on the road to the nonviolent settlement of difficulties and toward the gradual abolition of war as the way of settling international or civil disputes. Christians must become active in every possible way, mobilizing all their resources for the fight against war. Peace is to be preached and nonviolence is to be explained and practiced. We may never succeed in this campaign but whether we succeed or not, the duty is evident.”
Sooner or later life catches up with us and we come to the realization that there is no avoiding our problems, there is no running away from our demons, there is no going to war to win over this life or force our way through. It never lasts. There is nothing to grasp in desperation. It only adds to the suffering in the world.
We come to realize, often through experiencing or bearing witness to suffering, that the only true option is to meet life with authenticity in all of its rawness with an open heart, right here in this moment.
Meditation is the practice of not waiting until later, but gently and persistently meeting life as it is and as we are in this moment. Staying put. meeting our demons with compassion and gentleness. Moving beyond winning and losing. Letting go. Transforming suffering rather than transmitting suffering. Then we have no need to go to war with ourselves, with others, with life. Then we have peace.
the cost of war on our souls is too high to estimate. we should meditate on this.
in some ways we all bear the cost of war, but none more than those and the families of those who have sacrificed their lives in service. to them we should offer our deepest prayers and heartfelt gratitude. and it is to them and our children that we owe our pledge to work tirelessly for peace and an end to war.
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
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 haven’t been writing lately. words, for the time, have escaped me. i simply don’t have anything to say. i did come across, today, a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, however, which i’d like to share.
he wrote this poem after the town of Ben Tre had been bombed by U.S. forces during the Vietnam war. this poem is about anger. i was taken back when i read it today. only hours earlier, i sat in the green-room at work (dealing with my own anger and hurt) with my face in my two hands…comforted as i simply would breathe in and out. now for Thay’s words ~
I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands
to keep my loneliness warm –
two hands protecting,
two hands nourishing,
two hands preventing
my soul from leaving me