Again.May 25, 2022
Las Vegas: AR-15
Aurora, CO: AR-15
Sandy Hook: AR-15
Waffle House: AR-15
San Bernardino: AR-15
Poway synagogue: AR-15
Sutherland Springs: AR-15
Tree of Life Synagogue: AR-15
Emmett’s mom opened his casket and started the Civil Right’s movement.
Show the carnage.
Trying to reinstate the ‘94 ban after Sandy Hook attracted 12 fewer votes in the Senate than Feinstein had mustered to renew it in 2004.
See the photo Emmett Till’s mother wanted you to see — the one that inspired a generation to join the civil rights movement
By Jerry Mitchell Mississippi Center For Investigative Reporting
Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, wanted the world to see “what they did to my baby.”
His body looked monstrous, as if the 14-year-old had absorbed every blow of hate delivered by his killers — a photograph that ran in Jet magazine and many other African-American publications, but never appeared in the nation’s mainstream publications.
As a result, many Americans have never seen the photograph.
It is time the world did, his family members say.
In his book, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, Juan Williams concluded that decision by Till’s mother “without question … moved black America in a way the Supreme Court ruling on school desegregation could not match.”
“It is insane that we let an 18-year old go in and buy an AR-15. What did we think he was going to do with it?!” A furious Beto O’Rourke railing on TX gun laws after interrupting The Texas Governor’s presser.
[Reporting from Garrett Haake.]
Speaking to reporters after publicly confronting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today, a furious Beto O’Rourke rattled off four “solutions” to the mass shooting epidemic that he said have “broad bipartisan support right now”:
- Banning the sale of AR-15s
- Universal background checks
- Red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders
- Safe storage laws
‘When you vote ask yourself, who running for office has publicly stated that they’re willing to do anything & everything to protect your children from the criminally insane # of guns in the U.S.?’ -Stephen Colbert
“Deeply saddened by the news of the murder of innocent children in Texas. Sincere condolences to the families of the victims, the people of the US and President Biden over this tragedy. The people of Ukraine share the pain of the relatives and friends of the victims and all Americans.”
New York Times front page for Thursday, May 26th.
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” — Isaiah 1:15
The front page of Thursday’s Uvalde Leader-News.
Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen with Krista Tippett from 2005 and posted again in context of the latest mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.
This is the story of the birthday of the world. In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. Then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident. [laughs] And the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness in the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.
Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people; to lift it up and make it visible once again and, thereby, to restore the innate wholeness of the world. This is a very important story for our times — that we heal the world one heart at a time. This task is called “tikkun olam” in Hebrew, “restoring the world.”
Ms. Tippett:Is there a connection between the story of the sparks and tikkun olam in Jewish tradition? Are they bound together?
Dr. Remen:They’re exactly the same.
Ms. Tippett:I did not know that those two come together.
Dr. Remen:Tikkun olam is the restoration of the world. And this is, of course, a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world.
And that story opens a sense of possibility. It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It’s about healing the world that touches you, that’s around you.
Dr. Remen:Well, I don’t want to talk politics here. I’m not a person who is a political person in the usual sense of that word. But I think that we all feel that we’re not enough to make a difference; that we need to be more, somehow, either wealthier or more educated or, somehow or other, different than the people we are. And according to this story, we are exactly what’s needed. And to just wonder about that a little, what if we were exactly what’s needed? What then? How would I live if I was exactly what’s needed to heal the world? I think these kinds of questions are very important questions.
Rachel Naomi Remen is founder of the Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness (RISHI), clinical professor of family medicine at UCSF School of Medicine, and professor of family medicine at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. Her books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings have been translated into 24 languages.
From Activist and author Courtney Martin.
We belong to one another
and we can do so much better
I dropped my kids off at school today for their last days of kindergarten and 2nd grade. In a couple of hours, I will go back for a little kindergarten promotion ceremony and party for our Stella. She wore a hand-me-down dress with a suit vest over it—her own transcendent definition of “looking fancy.”
Maya is beyond excited because we are having a playdate this afternoon with her two best friends—Layla and Misgana. They have dubbed themselves the MALS and written an original song, choreographed an original dance, and of course, created the requisite secret handshake. This is a layered expression of their devotion for one another, a sentiment I remember so well from being that age and falling madly in love with my friends and the feeling of belonging to a few people.
The 21 people who were murdered yesterday by someone carrying an AK-47 belonged to so many people. The 10 people murdered last Saturday belonged to so many people.
As I oscillate in and out of being able to think and feel this morning, I keep reminding myself: the 19 children murdered yesterday are no less real than my two girls. Their caregivers are no less real than me. Their teachers—two now dead—are no less real than Ms. Galvin and Ms. Price and all the other teachers I have come to respect so much.
If I sit with that—our equal and shared realness—I feel like a Redwood, burned out from the inside, like I’m here, but there is nothing left inside of me that can be solid in the face of that level of real loss. I imagine what it would be like if I were the mother of one of the murdered children. I can only imagine I would be in a coma—spontaneously or by some kind of medical intervention. I know people survive profound loss, and yet, I am incapable of imagining myself opening my eyes ever again if one of my daughter’s was murdered, much less my heart or my mouth.
And then I think of the parents of the Sandy Hook victims—how they did, somehow, manage to open their hearts and mouths again. And how this day must feel to them.
I think of the teachers—the trauma on top of trauma on top of trauma they have been shouldering. The absence and outburst and tears they have been meeting with resilience and unconditional love and an eternal commitment to learning.
I think of the first responders who had to walk into that school and witness those little bodies, into that supermarket and witness those innocent victims. What will they do with those images burned into their minds?
I’ve been trying to do my work this morning, which I can justify has some linkage with building a better world, a better country, but part of me just feels like we should all be lying in the streets right now, refusing to move one more muscle, toast one more waffle, tweet one more tweet, until our kids can expect to live through a day at school and our aunties and uncles to pick up groceries without fearing for their lives.
Some people in this country, as I understand it, are preparing for a kind of war. A race war. Maybe a war for their own sense of superiority in a country with a changing demographic, their sense of control in a season of so little of it, their sense of invincibility when we are all objectively so vulnerable.
I am preparing for a long-awaited after school play date between three girls whose families come from different countries, speak different languages, and yet their love for one another is evident in hand slaps and coordinated spins. I am preparing to hear 25 five-year-olds sing this song, which may, in fact, prove too tender on a day where I am so excruciatingly tender already.
Which is to say, I am preparing for love and care and a fierce resistance to anybody who tries to normalize this level of loss. Death comes for all of us. We have a lot of work to do in acknowledging that vulnerability.
But death by AK-47 need not come for any of us. We have a moral mandate, long neglected, to make that truth undeniable. If it takes donation, walk-out, laying down in the street to make that clear, whatever it takes, I’m there, beside you, tender as hell.
Take care of yourself today. Gather with others. Rely on your rituals or make them up. We belong to each other.
And a beautiful letter to our collective compassion from faith healer, author, and documentarian Valerie Kaur.
Oh my loves.
What does it feel like in your body? For me – like a primal scream that won’t stop. When the death toll in Uvalde climbed to 19 children, I knew I had to wash the tears from my face and go downstairs and hug my babies and get them to bed. I wondered: Is the heart big enough to hold this? All this grief. All this rage. All the joy in their faces. My ancestors said: Oh my love, Yes. That is the heart we gave you.
That is the heart they gave us.
If you can’t function, it’s OK. If you can’t feel, it’s OK. If you can’t find your breath, it’s OK. Your breathlessness is not a sign of your weakness; it’s a sign of your bravery. It means that you are awake to what is happening right now: that the violence in our country is getting worse, the hate violence and the gun violence. And that the only way we will survive this – the only way we will change this – is together.
So let’s begin with a breath —
Let it come.
Hold for four counts.
Let it go.
Here’s why I believe we can change this:
Ten years ago, I worked on the ground in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in response to the horrific white supremacist shooting at a Sikh gurdwara. It was the largest massacre of Sikhs on this soil. I remember looking into the open caskets of people who looked like my family, and feeling like I was going to fall into the abyss. Then the doors of the gym opened, and people started to flood in for the memorial. Thousands of people. They didn’t even know us, but they showed up to grieve with us. You don’t have to know people in order to grieve with them; you grieve with them in order to know them. And because they grieved with us, many stayed to organize with us. And together, we changed federal hate crimes policy within the year.
After months in Oak Creek, my husband and I boarded a plane home to Connecticut. I was relieved to go home and ready for rest. But as soon as the plane touched the ground, my phone blew up with the news: A shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We didn’t go home. We went straight to a church in Newtown to grieve with people we did not know. I had left the site of one mass shooting only to go home to another.
In one massacre, the gunman hated us. In the next, the gunman hated himself. Both men had cut himself themselves off from humanity, others and their own.
This week – the same pattern. The news of Uvalde broke an hour before I was about to speak at an event about solidarity in the wake of Buffalo. Once again, we were all hurled from the site of one mass shooting to another. The gunmen in these shootings weren’t even born when many of us began this work. What do we do with when the violence is generational – and firearms are making killing more efficient?
#1 We need gun safety legislation absolutely. The majority of Americans want background checks. A handful of Senators are holding the nation hostage. But we are not helpless. Other countries have taken dramatic steps to save lives after mass shootings. So can we. Scroll down for immediate actions.
#2 We need to build beloved community where we are. We need a shift in culture and consciousness, block by block, heart to heart. I believe we can make every school, every house, every workplace, every community a place where we where we leave no one outside our circle of care, where we help one another be brave and whole. We can become the medicine that stops violence at its root. We can do this by putting love into practice.
What is your role right now?
GRIEVE: What is the shape of grief in your body? If you feel the primal scream in you, this is the time to make space for healing. Let yourself touch the sorrow, rest and breathe. Don’t isolate. Show up to a healing circle at your school with parents and teachers. Organize one if needed. Go to vigils. Be with people who make you feel safe. Let in softness and love into the places that ache. Make space to just to stop — and feel this together.
RAGE: What is the force of rage in your body? Notice where you are constricted, tense, or numb. Now move that energy – curse, scream, shake, dance, run. Don’t choke down your rage. Or let it fester. Be with people who can honor this rage and process it in safe containers. Your rage carries information – what is it telling you? You have something to fight for. You have a role to play, and no role is too small.
FIGHT: What courageous step are you ready to take? Do not swallow the lie that nothing can be done. You have a sphere of influence. Every choice we make – every word, every action, every encounter – co-creates culture and shapes what happens next. Will you use your voice, your art, your story, your money, your power, your heart?
REIMAGINE: What is the world you want? What does beloved community look like, feel like? We can only live into what we imagine. Protect time and space to dream and dream big. Then take one step toward that dream.
BREATHE: How will you breathe today? This is the work of a lifetime. Our lifetime. Take time to rest, step away from the news, nourish your body and your beloveds. Remember the wisdom of the midwife: Breathe, my love, then push. When joy comes, let it come. In joy, we presage the world to come.
Imagine that one day we look back on this era in our nation’s history with regret that it took so long to save the lives of our children – and relief that we were the ones who finally put an end to the carnage.
I believe that world is possible. Believe with me. Breathe with me – choose one thing above – now push.
In Chardi Kala – even in darkness, ever-rising spirits,
Pathos, compassion, and pleas. Please watch, and share.
Jimmy responds to the tragic school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and talks about 89% of Americans wanting background checks, our cowardly leaders listening to the NRA instead of the people they actually represent, firearms becoming the #1 leading cause of death for American children and teens, Ted Cruz speaking at an NRA event this weekend, the 27 school shootings so far this year in America, and making sure that lawmakers do something about common-sense gun laws. If you can, please support Everytown in their fight against gun violence. https://www.everytown.org/
“To do nothing about this ongoing carnage is a sin.”
Talk about it, act, in every community, in every state. The politicians, elected, won’t. Have not. Will not. We must.
- Background checks.
- Gun registration.
- Safe storage laws.
- Age limits on possessing and buying w e a p o n s o f w a r.
The least, the least, we can do.
And finally, my prayer remains people will override profit in this country for the safety of people and assault weapons will be completely banned, again. Weapons of war should not be on our streets. The ban worked before, it will work again. I b e l i e v e.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022March 23, 2022
‘We had (have) chosen a path of domination and destruction, of power-over instead of power-with, of wars and enslavement of African peoples and other reptilian games, of patriarchy and its distorted values, of rugged individualism and the survival of the fittest, rather than a path of interdependence and compassion, of gender balance and respect, of eco- and racial and economic justice. The very survival of our species, as well as millions of others and the rendering of our planet sustainable once again, calls for Julian’s wisdom. Julian stands tall as a leader in the spiritual revolution of our time’ (p. 119).
Julian of Norwich
“Fascism can come in a way that it is one step at a time, and in many ways, goes unnoticed until it’s too late.”
-Madeleine Albright [Fresh Air, NPR, 2018]
On this day in 1919 Benito Mussolini launched Partito Nazionale Fascista, the Fascist party.
Essay from Courtney Martin, activist and author:
Maya and her buddy have been getting in some quarrels, too. They’re both very sensitive and the relationship is charged with that best friend necklace-type intensity–so delicious and so terrifying. Maya’s friend is pretty quiet, particularly when she’s upset. One afternoon, as I was pulling crumpled drawings, sticky ziplock bags, and other detritus out of Maya’s backpack I found a piece of paper with two little bunnies drawn on it with dialogue. The bunnies were apologizing to one another in various scenarios. The scenarios were labeled: this is what I think will happen, this is what I want to happen, and this is what would happen. When I asked Maya about it, she said that her friend felt too sad to talk about their conflict so they decided to draw it out. Essentially they reinvented couples therapy as cute graphic novel–their favorite genre. Kinda genius, right?
I think about the time I apologized through a short story to my childhood best friend or the time a dude in a gold chain and Adidas tracksuit sobbed through an entire yoga class. I think about all the people we give up on, including ourselves, when maybe sometimes what we needed was only a sacred shift in approach—something less direct, something roundabout, something corporeal. Sometimes we need to take the long, circuitous way home to ourselves and each other rather than following the algorithmic directions for the most effective route. Kids get that. Adults forget that. I know I do. Here’s to inefficient, artsy, childlike apology. Here’s to repair as multidimensional as we are.
January 26th, 2022January 26, 2022
‘Now I’m wondering: is there a way to disentangle the story from the information? Yes, we need to take care of ourselves and each other. Yes, we need to stay aware and intentional, particularly considering the most vulnerable among us. But is there a way to do it with less ego and more observing tenderness?
It turns out, the interpretation of life is relentless. The suspension of interpretation, while brief and groundless, can be a sweet relief. I want less ego-building exercises and more compassion experiments in my life moving forward. I want less roller coasters and more clouds. I want less fear and more love’ -Courtney Martin
Courtney E. Martin is an American feminist, author, speaker, and social and political activist.
The Four Elements of Right Speech
‘Loving, truthful speech can bring a lot of joy and peace to people. But producing loving speech takes practice because we aren’t used to it. When we hear so much speech that causes craving, insecurity, and anger, we get accustomed to speaking that way. Truthful, loving speech is something we need to train ourselves in.
In Buddhism there’s a practice called the Ten Bodhisattva Trainings. Four of these 10 relate to Right Speech. A bodhisattva is an enlightened being who has dedicated his or her life to alleviating the suffering of all living beings.
A bodhisattva is someone who can speak with gentle, loving speech and who can listen with compassion.
The four bodhisattva guidelines of the Ten Bodhisattva Trainings for Right Speech:
- Tell the truth. Don’t lie or turn truth upside down.
- Don’t exaggerate.
- Be consistent. This means no double-talk: speaking about something in one way to one person and in an opposite way to another for selfish or manipulative reasons.
- Use peaceful language. Don’t use insulting or violent words, cruel speech, verbal abuse, or condemnation.
When we don’t, repercussions are brutal and, sometimes, irreparable. -dayle
‘Our suffering has been trying to communicate with us, to let us know it is there, but we have spent a lot of time and energy ignoring it.
We know that the suffering inside us contains the suffering of our fathers, our mothers, and our ancestors.
Our suffering reflects the suffering of the world. Discrimination, exploitation, poverty, and fear cause a lot of suffering in those around us. Our suffering also reflects the suffering of others.
If we understand our own suffering it will become much easier for us to understand the suffering of others and the of the world.
But unless we can listen to and acknowledge our own suffering, we will not really be able to help.’
Remembering Thich Nhat Hanh, Brother Thay
‘The Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, revered Zen master, teacher, and poet, died on January 22, 2022, in his native Vietnam. Brother Thay, as he was known by his community and students, transmuted what he had experienced of chaos and bloodshed in his country and his life into an ability to speak with equal measures directness and compassion to the many conflicts and bewilderments of contemporary life. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a great teacher of the wonderful practice of “walking meditation.” He taught a way of living to face suffering, fear, and violence inside and beyond ourselves and yet to become “fresh, solid, and free.” Krista sat with him for this rare conversation in the early years of this show, and it has touched many. It is astonishing to re-experience the deep, enduring wisdom this monk leaves for our world now.”
Host Krista Tippett.
For whom the bell tolls…June 10, 2021
As our nation marks 600,000 lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington National Cathedral will toll its mourning bell 600 times — once for every 1,000 dead — on Thursday (June 10) starting at 5 pm ET. We toll this 12-ton bell for every funeral held at the Cathedral. Funerals mourn the loss, but they also celebrate the lives of our loved ones, and point us to the hope of resurrection. This gesture cannot replace the lives lost, but we hope it will help each American mourn the toll of this pandemic.
“Are you surprised by your own behavior and desires right now? Fighting with your partner or spouse? Pushing back against a board that wants to go back to the old organizational strategy? Crying on airplanes? Drinking again? Giving up drinking finally? Liking music you’ve never liked? Not liking the kinds of books you’ve always loved? Feeling weird in your body? Ruminating on social interactions more than ever before?
It’s not you. It’s us. It’s this moment.
We’re becoming something that we’ve never been before. Some of us are tentatively excited about this. Sort of tiptoeing into a new dance. Some of us, especially those for whom the old reality was working pretty well, are in lizard brain: GO BACK GO BACK FORGET THIS BREAKING-OPEN-AND-QUESTIONING-EVERYTHING SHIT LET’S GO BACKKKKKKKK!
But there is no “back.”
2020 changed us in fundamental ways. No matter who you are or were. This is always true—time marches forward and tweaks and transforms us along the way—but never has it been more true, in my lifetime at least, than this moment. We were someone, some neighborhood, some nation before covid hit and schools closed and bodies piled up and Breonna Taylor was murdered and we all gathered on zoom all the time and the capitol was invaded and monuments were pulled down and vaccines were invented and hoarded…
and we are now, today, someone else, some other neighborhood with different understanding of public space and belonging, some other nation that is straining to rise to its own moment rather than retreating to the shadows of a less consciousness, less thin time.
For me, I’m realizing, it feels on par with the profound transformation I experienced while becoming a mother—a before and an after, a me that was and a me that will never be again.
I used to watch my daughters sleep. Sometimes I still do. And the gratitude I feel for the miracle of their breath coming in and out, of their lungs working, of their hearts pumping blood—it’s unlike anything else. It’s desperate and deep and makes me cry just thinking about it. Just last night Stella crawled into our bed (Bad dream, mama. Bad dream.) and I lay awake at 2 in the morning and, though I knew I’d promised to be up 4 hours later for a hike, I just couldn’t stop noticing the rise and fall of her chest.
I think we are all watching ourselves breathe in the night right now. We are aware of how unpromised all of this actually is, but also exhausted from being so awake and so fucking grateful that—though so much is going wrong—we are still alive at all. Some of us are embracing the vigil, leaning towards the questions we first asked during this traumatic year: who do I actually want to be? how do I actually want to live and lead? what actually matters—not just to me, but to humanity?
And some of us wish the baby would go back to sleeping in the crib in the other room and we could compartmentalize that yes, it’s a pure and lucky miracle that our bodies work at all, that our democracy is sort of functioning again, and that we can’t think about that every moment. That we must go on with earning money and filling up our calendars and scheduling trips and feeling important and busy and mostly good. We want to return to the strategic plans we laid out in 2019 before social distancing was a household phrase or we knew just how fragile our institutions really were. This summer, we want to eat BBQ and be happy-go-lucky and vaccinate ourselves against the very vulnerability that brought us to our knees last summer.
Or maybe you want both of these things—both to return and to go forward, to regress and to progress, to deepen your relationship with the you that you first met during our pandemic year and to abandon her for a less intense, less humbled version of yourself. I get that, too. Somedays I want both, too.
But the rub of it is: there is no going back. As Octavia Butler wrote in Parable of the Sower: “All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God Is Change.”
The ground will keep shifting, even if you build a monument to your own safety atop it. The chest will keep rising and falling, until it doesn’t, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. The only thing to do is keep welcoming the beautiful unknown, however terrifying. Burn the old plans. Keep loving and questioning. As Parker Palmer wrote: “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”
‘This is how it unfolds.’May 19, 2021
“It’s easy, if you are vaccinated, and in good health and spirits, to feel like the whole world is enjoying a moment of reopening, reconnection, restoration. They aren’t. Even folks within our own country—those suffering from long covid, those who haven’t had access to vaccines, or don’t trust them for various reasons, are still far more precarious.
Despite the fact that many of my vaccinated friends and I are tentatively stepping into one another’s homes and reveling in the simple joy of sitting at one another’s kitchen tables, despite the fact that I took my first hike without a mask on in over a year, despite the fact that my kids’ school says it will be fully open and in person in the fall–the pandemic is not over.
In the wider world, it is very much raging on.
I was reminded of this as I was standing around a playground on Sunday and got a WhatsApp message from a friend, someone with relatives in India. She wrote, in part:
My elderly aunt is battling covid. She was taking care of a dying husband and a disabled son. Now my uncle is dead and the government came and took his body away. My other cousin went to the crematorium alone. No last rites, expect my uncle who lives on the block, broke the rules and snuck outside to just watch the body being taken away. There is no point to this story beyond my grief and my rage and the unshakable pain that this is how it unfolds.
My grief and my rage and the unshakable pain that this is how it unfolds.
We have to remember that our joy is profoundly relative and propped up by a thousand unearned privileges. Relationships are a universal foundation—a richness that survives in every corner of the globe no matter the structural constraints. My friend’s uncle snuck outside, despite the danger. This is what we humans do.
But our ability to revel in and honor our friends and family are often influenced by economics and nationality and gender and race and so much else. In other words, we are profoundly connected by our need for relationships and profoundly severed by our differential capacity to nurture those relationships in this moment. To be healthy. To be healed. To be safe.
We are in a moment of transitions—all the way from the most intimate to the most global. Let us treasure our joy, our small, safe re-openings and reconnections, all the while holding the truth that so many are still in acute danger and pain.”
If you’re absolutely positively NOT gong to vaccinate, then mask up.
We are re-arranged.April 1, 2021
The following piece was written by Courtney Martin. She is a brilliant writer. I bought her yellow & blue book for my now young adult kids a number of years ago. Reading her words through our isolation continues to be a balm for my spirit.
“I was trying to describe the fog of emotions I’ve been feeling about society/school/life re-opening lately to a friend and realized that it was very similar to that study abroad malaise all those years ago. I’ve been through a thing. We’ll all been through a thing.” ~Courntey
How will be changed? Will we honor the change? Our personal paradigm shift? How, through this change, can we, will we, do better, be better, to ourselves, each other, our community, our country, our planet?
A plea for reverence for what we have all endured
“Right before we returned from our study abroad program in South Africa all of the American college students started getting tattoos. We had lived with families in Langa township, grown accustomed to mealie sap for breakfast, learned the click of the Xhosa language, and watched emails to our boyfriends and girlfriends back home build letter by letter in the excruciatingly slow computer lab on the University of Cape Town campus.
We were, in short, not the same people as those who had boarded the airplane in New York City six months earlier. We were different people, maybe not new exactly, but internally rearranged.
On the outside, however, we looked the same. Thus the tattoos. It was a way of telegraphing to the world—but especially our family and friends, who we most needed to know—that we were altered. We had been through a thing. We had come out the other side.
I was trying to describe the fog of emotions I’ve been feeling about society/school/life re-opening lately to a friend and realized that it was very similar to that study abroad malaise all those years ago. I’ve been through a thing. We’ll all been through a thing.
Not the same thing, interestingly. Mine was euphoric mindfulness mixed with unfamiliar rage, little girls’ bodies all over me, all the time, starving for solitude, learning to cook and download audio books, falling in love with a hard hike, grief over losses unexpected and expected, alike. Yours might have been skin hunger and take-out, learning to drive and play the ukulele, losing a job, falling out of love with something core. We were not, as it turned out, all in this together.
But we were all in something. And I don’t know about you, but I want us to mark that moment in some way—maybe not with the unimaginative dolphin and butterfly tats of yesteryear, but something, anything, that might make this liminal space feel seen and acknowledged. That might help us say—with out bodies, with our spirits, with our people—wow, we endured. Through isolation and fear and grief, we endured. We honored birth and death in completely new ways. We stayed put. We stayed together. We stayed. We stayed. Not all of us did, but most of us did. We stayed.
As things open up, part of me wants to shout: “Have some God damn respect! Can you see what’s happened here?”
It’s not about physical safety. It’s about something else—reverence. I’m craving a sort of societal deep breath, a collective song of mourning and resurrection, a deep bow to the fact that we held it the f down.
It’s not that I can’t see the light down there at the end of the tunnel (call it herd immunity, call it 2022, call it whatever you want). Today my kid went to school for the first time in over a year in a real classroom with a teacher with a body and came home bouncing. She said it was “better than the beach.” I want her to run into that future full force, to enjoy every second of the visceral life she deserves.
But even as she crossed over the threshold into the school, part of me wanted to freeze the whole scene, to say something that would help her understand how completely awed I am by how she’s adapted. And that she’ll always have this—this year when she planted the doomed loquat and fell in love with multiplication and was mostly shockingly kind to her sister and the cat. The smokey skies and the talk of germs and the learning to ride a bike—it’s all inside of her now. It can’t be seen from the outside, but it’s hers forever.
I guess this is me saying that to her (hi Maya of the future, call me). I guess this is me saying that to myself. I endured. I was mostly shockingly kind. I learned a lot. And it’s inside of me now.
I guess this is me saying that to you, too. You did it. It’s inconceivable what you braved, what you remade, what you longed for, what you held on for. And it’s not exactly over, but it’s changing, and in this liminal moment, as we ascend into the sky, away from the thing that altered us, I want you to know that I see how you’re internally rearranged. You’re not the same. You’re even more beautiful.
\ (•◡•) /
“The spiritual journey is the relinquishment…or unlearning…of fear, and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.” -Marianne Williamson
“Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of life which God has given.” -Ecclesiastes 5:18
Let’s meet there.January 13, 2021
From the Center of Action & Contemplation:
The hearts of more and more children, young people, adults, and senior citizens are yearning for a new story, a story of love rather than hate, of creativity rather than destruction, of win-win cooperation rather than win-lose competition, of peace-craft rather than war-craft.
They are waiting for a new story to explore, inhabit, and tell.
We are all looking for a larger and more loving story in which to participate.
[Brian D. McLaren and Gareth Higgins, The Seventh Story: Us, Them, & the End of Violence]
From activist and author Courtney Martin:
We continue to build the country of our dreams, the one worthy of our children. We counter tantrums with tenderness towards those all around us. People are grieving. People are tired. The vast majority of Americans have spent almost a year largely inside of our homes, trying to keep one another safe, our lives turned inside out in an attempt to protect ourselves from life-threatening disease, but also life-threatening leadership. This is no small thing.
We need to see each other. We need to look with ten times the magnification with which we are looking at this tantrum. We need to celebrate each other’s steadfastness and resilience, our neighborliness and creativity. We have shown up for one another in quiet, slow, manatee-like ways for so many months. So many have died—of covid, yes, but also cancer and heart attacks and a thousand other things probably exacerbated by stress and loneliness.
So much has been lost. Beautiful things—like banter with strangers and bellying up to a bar to laugh and cry with a friend. But toxic things, too—so many delusions about this country shed. We are not as far along on our moral arc as we may have thought. We are not as in control, either. Control being, as we are being reminded now, an addiction of wounded, unwise souls.
Sacred is all around us. Sacred is the steadfast sheltering in. Sacred is the children writing barely legible messages to their grandparents about how excited they are to see them when it is safe.
Sacred is the rising bread and the people’s peaceful footfalls during marches that filled these streets this summer. Sacred is the church that shaped MLK delivering a prophetic voice right in time. Sacred is the murmurations and the raging waves and the swaying Redwoods, ancient enough to withstand any man’s silly machinations. Sacred is the stupid zooms and the inside jokes and the living room forts that have gotten us through. Sacred is the soul searching of so many White Americans, the earnest attempts to find different ways of being with others, of being with ourselves. Sacred are the caregivers, who make our country less lonely, the organizers, who make our country more democratic, and the teachers, who aren’t giving up on our kids no matter what.
This is where my attention is going this week, this month, this year. While they flail, I will focus. While they desecrate, I will nurture. While they grasp for control, I will release—delusions, power, money, whatever will help this place heal. There is a version of this country that exists within and beyond this moment. I’ll meet you there.
“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
The Enlightened Heart, p. 59
Thank you for your service.November 11, 2020
You gave everything. For what? Look at us. Humanity. We’re a mess. We can’t even don a mask because, you know, our rights not to wear one are greater than your right to live.
But yeah. Thank you for your service. We truly don’t know what it means, as a
C O L L E C T I V E
to take care of our own.
We dishonor you with our actions during this global pandemic.
Some continue to try. ♡
“I am just grief stricken by how many Americans are OK with racist dog whistling and white supremacy and cutesy nods to white nationalism. Even if 45 is gone, that all stays. This is who we are.”
A friend, the White mother of a Black child, posted this on Facebook on election night. That last line floored me: This is who we are.”
It is exactly who we are. Since before the birth of this nation.
The pandemic’s toll on veterans
by, Ashley Gold
“A number of recent studies highlight the problems facing veterans as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
- According to one recent survey of 30,000 veterans wounded after 9/11, 52% said their mental health has gotten worse and 49% said their physical health has become worse since they started social distancing during the pandemic.
- Sixty-one percent said they felt more disconnected from friends, family and community, according to the survey by the Wounded Warrior Project.
- Veterans are delaying doctors’ appointments too, with 70% reporting having in-person appointments canceled or postponed. And 40% noted employment difficulties.
- The Associated Press reported in September that military suicides have gone up as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019.A study by the
- Bob Woodruff Foundation this spring said emergent trauma, loneliness due to social isolation, and unplanned job losses creates a “perfect storm” threatening the mental health of veterans.
By the numbers: Beyond the stress caused by the pandemic, coronavirus cases are up among veterans, too. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there have been 83,383 cases among VA hospitals with 4,223 known deaths.”
Exhausted. On edge.
Now, as the world heaves a collective sigh of relief (or grief), whatever you’re feeling, wherever this finds you…
Let’s take a moment to remember that the great task of our lifetimes is not to change the world.
Our task is ONLY to transform ourselves …
The world is naturally transformed by our Light.
‘Since the “map show” of last week—all those blues and reds signifying, well, everything and nothing—we’ve been hearing calls for unity. I get it. I really do. I crave more steady common ground rather than the shifting tectonic plates we’ve all been surfing unsteadily these last four years. I want a news network called Truth that everyone, regardless of political party, actually trusts. Let’s spend some time disagreeing about our values and how to get things done, not the facts, for a change. Let’s log off of social media where our most base emotional wiring is being profoundly manipulated. At this point, I’d rather our commander-in-chief communicated via interpretive dance than twitter.
But as much as I honor our collective desire for kindness, this is not the time for congeniality. This is the time for a fiercer form of moral leadership. Our foundational values need to show up in public—calm, sure, if that feels authentic, but more importantly, uncompromising on questions of basic humanity. We have developed some powerful new muscles the year for tolerating uncertainty, for unvarnished truthtelling, for outraged solidarity; now is not the time to get back to compartmentalization and quiet desperation, violent death and violent denial.
It’s not unity we need. It’s a basic agreement that racism, sexism, ableism, etc. will not be tolerated. There are not two sides on this. There are a million shades of gray on how we live and lead, but there are not and should never be two sides on dehumanization.
And, yes, that means that my work is not to dehumanize those who didn’t vote as I did. My work is to get ever more curious about them, about our current ecosystem of information and the way it has distorted all of our perceptions of truth and trust. My work is to disagree with them out loud, on the page, wherever I need to, whenever I need to—boldly and respectfully.
I am especially invested in doing this with White women right now, having seen that half of those with a similar racial and economic status as my own supported Trump; I am baffled and profoundly sad about this. My job now is to transform that bafflement, that disappointment, into fuel. I am tired of looking at the demographic data the day after an election and being ashamed of the way “my people” voted. But I won’t reject those people. I will pick my chin up and get after organizing with them—figuring out what my gifts are and how I can bring them to bear on this conundrum (the conundrum being that even the dehumanized vote for the dehumanizer).
I see that as work of those who have had the privilege of not watching their humanity be debated. I am not going to ask my Black or immigrant or disabled friends to spend their precious energy empathizing with someone who doesn’t believe they are as worthy as I am. If that’s someone’s spiritual practice, so be it, but to publicly call for all Americans to unify is to ask those who have been systematically and interpersonally dehumanized by racists and xenophobes to invest in them. That’s not just insensitive, it’s emotionally violent—particularly within the context of 400 years of this shit. That’s not their sacred duty. It’s ours.’
To those calling for unity, here is my ask: Stop requesting self-annihilation from anyone. Yes, we need to combat the reductive thinking that is only further entrenched by the “map show.” No, we don’t need to capitulate, compromise, or God forbid, normalize the hatred that has always been part of this country, but was surfaced so painfully this year.
And while we’re at it, stop painting fierce moral leadership as wokeism (looking at you, David Brooks). It’s patronizing and inaccurate. Sure, there is a faction of the progressive movement that is more performance than substance. That’s true of any movement at any time. But there are a huge number of people who put a tremendous amount of effort into taking a stand for basic humanity this year; we even risked our own health, the health of our families, to show up at protests and work the polls. We donated money at a time when money was already tight. We talked to our children, however clumsily, about the brokenness of the world. We didn’t do it for woke brownie points. We did it because something intrinsic to our very souls resists the dehumanization of others.
We must not parody that, or call for its politeness. We must nurture and grow and honor that. We must push progressive White America to look at the places where hypocrisy and neglect live in our own lives, not just point the finger at Trump voters. We’re coming to the close of a year of painful unearthing; don’t dishonor that with pavement of politeness.
If you are a White person on this journey to figure out how to organize with other White people, check out my bud Garrett Bucks’ new Barnraisers Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and/or Integrated Schools.
Our country’s soul runs deep.September 30, 2020
He will watch as his towers crumble to the ground and we melt down the gold-tinted glass and steel to create a gorgeous bridge across our southern border. His golf courses will be transformed into highly diversified ecosystems where sophisticated natural reciprocity, not small men, reign. Everything he built his personal brand around–unlimited wealth and toxic masculinity and an anemic sort of freedom defined by individualism–will become compost for the new world we grow. His worldview will become so archaic as to be understood as the twisted mythology that it is.
-Courtney Martin, author and activist
[“Weird drawing I did while listening to the “debate” last night.” -Courtney]
“Some Pain is simply the normal grief of human existence. That is pain I try to make room for. I honor my grief.”
“What happens next depends on each one of us…and all of us together.”
“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves.”
-Gospel of John 6:43
“No miracles, please.
Just let your laws
from generation to generation.”
“We can only consider things so long. After a while, all the information…all the options and opinions…will begin to weight us down. After our deeper eyes have seen the situation, all the well-meaning voices telling us what we should or should not do will start to feel like strings we can’t cut through.
The only way to know what awaits us is to live it.”
This morning, finding peace in the chaos, calm in the inevitable. We will get through the pain and suffering the next few months politically and socially, and many more for COVID. Our country’s spirit runs deep. We know it will be painful and frightening. Yet, as Courtney Martin writes, all of this will become ‘compost for the new world we grow.’ We choose now, in this moment, how, and what, we want to grow.
We stand with you.June 4, 2020
[Photo: Courtney Martin, Oakland, CA]
“We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. The prophet Habakkuk writes, “The vision still has its time, presses onto fulfillment and it will not disappoint . . . and if it delays, wait for it [2:3].”
-Fr Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
Remember.May 22, 2020
Four things I know are true but have to remember to remember:
- santosha (the joy is there, I just have to scan for the good)
- impermanence (everything I love will someday disappear)
- karma (what I give is what I get)
- dukkah (suffering is wanting things to be different than they are)
-Abby Falik, Global Citizen Academy
The Walls in our NeighborhoodsJanuary 8, 2019
Like many “adult” things I try to explain to her (daughter) these days, this one made little intuitive sense. “Because he doesn’t want our neighbors to be able to get in,” I said.
Our president’s desire for a wall has all but brought our country to a standstill. And while his unforgivable dehumanization of immigrants is deeply rooted in white supremacy, the morning chat with my daughter reminds me that it’s also deeply rooted in America’s obsession with private ownership.
I might not be a white supremacist, but I live in a neighborhood — as you likely do — where we live among fences and organize our lives around the maintenance of our own homes and cars and possessions. When those in the upper middle class need help, as we inevitably do, we hire someone — a house cleaner, a childcare provider, an in-home nurse. We underpay these people and keep them off of our social media feeds. In that way, it’s not just our physical surroundings and stuff that we maintain with a lot of attention and energy; it’s our performance of self-sufficiency.
Each day, in a hundred little ways, elite American families build a mental wall between ourselves — capable, efficient, and deserving — and the others — the weak, sick, addicted, uneducated, undeserving. We may even pity the latter, but we don’t — as a rule — believe that our thriving has anything to do with their struggle. Not really. We have our house, our car, our country. They have theirs.
We may have more empathy for immigrants than President Trump, but our daily actions don’t teach our children that each human being on this planet deserves dignity. We tell our kids to share but do little of it ourselves. Maybe, in addition to fighting his walls and his white supremacy, we should be doing more to welcome our own suffering neighbors.
In other words, where are the places where neglect and a lack of moral imagination exist in my life and in the life of my family? I’m trying not to just tell the story over and over again about how much I abhor this president’s politics, but also tell a new story about us.
Relaxing with ambiguity.October 1, 2016
‘Part of growing older and wiser, for me, has been about coming to terms with the fact that closure is fairly rare. In mucky times, I’ve often turned to Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. She writes,
“As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.”
Relaxing with ambiguity is one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted to do. It doesn’t suit my personality at all. And yet, I know it’s the most realistic way to approach the beautiful mess that is human relationships.’