Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Direction from Within

How am I to write about these things I have stood for always, in some way; how am I to acknowledge and then help those suffering in fear?  Listen to them.  Listen without prejudice to the truly vulnerable. Place myself *near* the truly vulnerable. 

I can certainly take the lessons of direction I’ve received, think through ways to ask the right questions, just as my greatest teachers have for me, to allow others to see their own unique path. Theirs is not mine, after all.

Where I have to draw a line is in deliberate and hateful acts of racism, discrimination of any sort which cuts off or degrades human life.  I am appalled that there are people I know who don’t care about or even acknowledge this everyday reality. There can be love even if you don’t agree, even if you don’t share experiences or ways of life. Love is this at least.

I think of children and how loved they can be, and how easily they can accept others in that love.  There’s naiveness in this, of course—what we learn with experience is that we can’t simply accept everything.  It’s a tough line to tow—not to go over the edge of it by being jaded, wizened, unable to be flexible, and then hurt ourselves more than others, even, by holding in that anger or fear that comes from experience.  There’s a great deal of fear out there, and it’s wise to pause, step back, consider what you’re reacting to before jumping in.  There’s instances, though, to take a stand, to do something, to take action.  Certainly leaving room to assess, but not leaving enough time to damage someone’s body or soul.  And that requires a good deal of meditation and thought beforehand:  what *would* you do if you were confronted with a moral wrong, directly, and in the moment?  Would you step in?  Or would you think it “too complicated” and step away, convinced (or convincing yourself) that you’d just make it more complicated? And what would happen to the person slighted, maligned, even physically hurt?  Would that matter to you?  What would happen to your soul if you did not find time to care in the instance alive and present to you instead of the theoretical ones, the scenarios that run through your mind? Or the ones which so many stupidly accept on social media, or don’t bother to check through or see for logic in media at large? 

What about the system you buy into? How sure are you that you’re not simply contributing to the problem?  How willing are you to dismiss this writing as gloom and doom? If we look around us we see the signs of danger everywhere, and all that has changed is our exposure to these.  What everyone seems to have forgotten is that taking a step back and using the gift of logic we’ve been gifted as human beings creates change, and lifts the veils we lay over our eyes at the sight of suffering, death, injustice, the maligning of the human spirit.

What I’m suggesting is this: take time to think through were you really stand, whether you include an understanding of others in that stance, what your true self is from within—not from outside influence so flighty, so out-of-reality that it’s not in-the-moment. Don’t just stubbornly cling to your stand, but don’t simply fall for another’s either. Otherwise, take a moment to consider what kind of human you and those you influence could become, if you don’t take stock and fill in the gaps of your own soul.

I strongly recommend a spiritual practice to accomplish this—the one I’ve been doing lately that works for me is the Examen.  There’s some neat Apps for this now which offer variety of approaches to each day, each problem faced. The straight-forward way is good, too:

 Ask for God's help    
Offer gratitude for gifts    
Notice God's presence    
Notice God's absence    
Ask for graces

This or something like it would allow you to approach your goals in daily life and at least start on some path toward understanding, toward true peace, and not just for the self, but radiating toward all.  Starting with yourself is the most doable way to contribute and forge community again, create the wholeness we long for.  I’m not so naive to think this is a silver bullet—nothing is—but change has to start somewhere.  Why not within?

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