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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

arthritisDifficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict. (William Ellery Channing)

Be nice. Nice. Nice. The teachings of my childhood. Begin with following all rules with a smile and… I don’t remember what came after the and.

Since I happened to be a girl who grew up in the middle of the twentieth century, options were limited. Rarely mentioned. Mom, teacher, nurse. The arts? Forget it. Not practical. Difficulties during those days needed to be faced with stoic silence.

The result—any pain, sorrow, even joys I felt that weren’t shared by my family seemed bizarre, disconnected with anyone else. I see life differently since I learned the world’s inhabitants have as many similarities as differences.

Empathy is a gift. A celebration of shared humanity.

When people, or groups of people, mock mass deaths for political motives I cringe. Conflict? Inevitable. I’ve shared meals, laughs, celebrations with some of the mockers.

Growth in compassion seems as likely as studying the brain through decapitation. And yet, using a less graphic image, grapes and roses grow after deep pruning.

Do I back down? No. That’s the advice of early childhood, the place where I got lost. Instead I follow the advice of my arthritic hands. They throb.

Mother nature has been sending enough rain to flood rivers and streams to overload the land. Pestering my aching joints with action is the way to be nice, nice, nice to them.

I pray for more people to listen to the survivors of injustices. May the listeners place themselves in similar unjust circumstances, without rushing to judgments.

May the survivors recognize they are not alone. May I somehow not sever all connections with the people I see as creating harm.

An impossible request? Maybe. A-step-up-to-unlikely would be worth the effort. In the meantime, I sharpen empathy by choosing awareness in close-by places.

The man behind me in the checkout line at the grocery store has three items. I have at least thirty. He can go ahead of me. My tired mate who needs a nap doesn’t need to be awakened by the vacuum cleaner. And, I have a friend or two who could use a phone call this evening.

Maybe the larger world is no closer to repair, but my smaller realm has been blessed.

 

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screened vision

(screened vision, black and white, not easily read and slightly off-center)

The most important thing is to be whatever you are without shame. (Rod Steiger)

Even if I had the X-ray vision of the Superman I watched long before flat-screened TV and Netflix, I doubt I could understand human motivation. Friendships with the folk who share a similar sense of empathy, are easy. Those who can’t see a relationship between weapons and death, are difficult for me to figure out.

Someone I know tells a story about direct experience with an individual wielding a gun—at her. No pause for recognition of her experience, the person she tells continues with a statistics-game. No awareness of the damage done by violence.

Yet, this man is worthwhile, genuine in what he does. I have no intention of turning away from him. Argument proves nothing.

A photo taken through a screen isn’t the same as a picture taken in the cold and ice—as it develops. The picture isn’t the same as the photographed space.

Life continues without a set pattern. I need to be who I am, speak my own truth and respect the truth of another. Sometimes this respect is as difficult as seeing through two separate screens, made of vastly different experiences.

Peace. Five letters, each one separated by centuries of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, an essential goal. For all.

 

 

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Peace isInspiration does exist, but it must find you working. (Pablo Picasso.)

Editing a manuscript can be like searching through garbage for lost tarnished silverware. Before the utensils pass inspection, they need to lose some crud. A shine may or may not happen after vigorous polishing.

Living real life is far more difficult. Its garbage never goes away. Peaceful existence demands a less judgmental approach. And—the work is never completed.

Sometimes persons who seemed to be so perfect, flub, big time. A friend disappears when needed. Or worse, dies. The evening news brings more continued discord than it brings news.

And yet, mother nature, world history, and current politics never promised to be fair.

I’m glad I can find inspiration in the love real life allows. Sometimes in the simplest ways. A day with a six-year-old grandchild. An unexpected phone call or thank-you card. A well-timed compliment. A new friend.

Inspiration exists, but it needs more than published-word acknowledgment. Thanks to all for your smiles, in person or via cyberspace. Sent to me, sure. However, any gift offered without expectation, is richer than any polished silver or word. Pass it on…

Peace.

 

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winter through the screen (2)_LI

All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. (Tahereh Mafi)

Snow. A four-letter word. Not in a vulgar, but in a testy sense. Nevertheless, I know I’m blessed as I feel and hear warm air rise from the furnace. My husband kept a thick, warm coat in the back seat of the car until we saw a homeless man who could use it. Socks next maybe. Some packaged food…

Inside the house I wheeze. Yet, I have the medications necessary to recover. Outside, who knows how long I would last?

A cardinal stops to snack at the birdfeeder. A squirrel gorges on the feed. I look at my belly and suspect I have more in common with the squirrel.

The snow melts and then promises to appear again. Need never melts completely. However, compassion isn’t a job; it’s a way of life. 

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A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind. (John Neal)

I meet every Tuesday morning with a spiritual group I joined when my older son was a toddler. The subject of hope keeps bouncing to the surface. I could use it.

Watch the news for more than five minutes, and the desire to remain on the couch indefinitely becomes tempting.

Deportation of innocent young people, hurricanes, earthquakes, the exploitation of personal tragedy, hate and greed take over the screen. 

As my friends and I talk about love that reaches deeper than the average Valentine card, I lift my socks-covered feet onto the coffee table. A deep purple bruise has taken over my right foot.

I knocked a few books off the shelf and gravity won. The foot swelling will heal. In comparison to the grief I see around me, this pain is a pinprick. The difficulties we explore are stab wounds.

However, my friend gives me an icepack. Love wrapped in a maroon towel. A symbol of hope. My friends share both encouragement and experience. Not lofty, disjointed everything-will-be-okay platitudes.

I share a short video. A Canadian politician is hassled by someone who confuses Sikhism for Islam. Clarification between the two groups is less important than the interruption centered in hate. Resolution comes through the leader’s call to peace. I hope the welcome greeting eventually touches the angry woman. Prejudice is heavy armor; it restricts movement and disables the heart. Hate armor takes time to build and time to remove.

The video can be found at this link: Sikh Politician Gets Verbally Attacked and Handles Gracefully.

In our small Tuesday group, we pause to check our responses. What preconceived notions do we hold? What views are opinions, taught, not experienced? And not true.

Kites fly through gentle wind; their fabric fails during turbulence. I choose where to fly a metaphorical kite, and where to call for reinforcements.

In the meantime, my foot loses some of its discomfort under the ice. I can decide to pass along kindness with the examples of my friends—or, I can add to the turbulence with discontent.

Peace. Upon all. Whether our political views coincide. Or not.

In the meantime, I will fly into Europe and meet other people. And see other ways of knowing life. Hopefully, I will come back with fresh perspective. And just a little more understanding.

photo-shopped public domain pic

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Change yourself to change the world. Keep it personal today. (Horoscope for Taurus, February 25)

I usually read my horoscope in the daily newspaper, not because it rules my day. I’m curious. Sometimes the advice is so vague it could fit any situation; other times it fits in an odd serendipitous way—like accidentally opening a how-to book to the right page—without effort.

Last night my husband and I went to a fun, well-attended family wedding. I noticed we were seated at a table with relatives who have polar political views. Yet, we did not discuss them. We shared our love for one another. Our lives as they are. I felt blessed. When we separated, I experienced a sense of loss, a longing to see these good people again as soon as possible.

If we had delved into our differences, I suspect the bond could have been tested. The differences need mending. Among families and in the world. However, the breaks can’t be healed in a single discussion. They can’t be adjusted within the us-versus-them void.

Have I changed my mind about laws that affect the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized? Absolutely not. That does not mean I need to react with name-calling. What I say reflects who I am. May the power of the written and spoken word add healing, not pain. Eventually…

can-we-risk-peace

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Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds – all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have. (Edward Everett Hale)

I’m at the pool on a not-too-hot summer day. Jay and I are the only persons in the adults-only side of the deep end of the pool. A woman enters the water. Her expression shouts bad mood, but I swim a bit closer and say, “hello.”

She does not answer until a few minutes later when I try again. I don’t hear every word, but I do recognize her expression—and it isn’t nice-to-meet-you on any level.

“I’m sorry,” I respond in a pleasant tone. “I didn’t hear what you said.”

She shakes her head and turns around. I give her space. And say a silent prayer. For her. The water has pulled out all the pain in my back that has plagued me for the past month. And I am not going to let her misery destroy my healing.

I swim away and within a few minutes she exits the water.

Then a young girl takes a swim test in the lane next to the tread area. “Am I allowed to take breaths?” she asks.

I smile and so does the lifeguard giving her the test.

“Yes, you need to breathe,” the lifeguard answers, her amusement obvious. But she maintains respect for the young swimmer.

The girl has a silent cheering squad. I want her to make it. No, I will not interfere. This is not my test, and on some level I suspect I could be embarrassing her if I spoke. But, I want this young lady to win. To succeed.

When Jay and I leave the pool later I see the unhappy woman in a lounge chair. She seems to be looking around her, as if targeted by people who somehow want to get in her way. Silently cheering her on isn’t as easy as encouraging the innocent young swimmer.

But, I don’t know what this woman faces. If my hello intimidated her, I have no idea what she needs. Nor will I probably ever understand. Saving the world is not my job. Responding with peace instead of hate, is.

pic: Thich Nhat Hanh, walking on earth in peace

walking on earth is the real miracle

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