When I was in Alberta, several years ago, my friend, Carol, told me of an interesting phenomenon. A satellite had taken a photo of Mother Earth, and where there were no existing lights or any type of technological gridirons that could possibly supply light power, lights were seen all over the earth — little beacons of lights lending radiance and warmth to our planet. There was no scientific explanation for the source of the light.
I would like to think that the lights are the many good, random acts of kindness that happen each day in our lives.
I have to keep this thought of Anne Frank, foremost in my thoughts: ““It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
It seems today, in our country of America, that we have traded humanity with individualism. We strive to become. Paul Klee’s quote, “Becoming is superior to being,” was often my impetus to change. Now that I have aged, I wonder, is it really so important to strive for that? I am wondering if that is actually true. It seems, as of late, that “being is superior to becoming.”
I think of how many need someone to listen to them…to be present to them…to give meaning to their existence.
I think of the people in the nursing facilities, where they are put in their final years of life, after being actively engaged with family for many years. Then suddenly, they find themselves there. The reasons can be many…how much of it is our own deep complacency? Our own unwillingness to disrupt our own comfort level? Does our materialistic way of being, get in the way of us taking the step beyond the norm?
I think back to my days as an Educator for many years. Was I always willing to go the extra step for the student, even if it meant a hassle with the Administration? Sometimes I didn’t, and, as I grew as a teacher, I became more and more “outspoken”—the adjective attributed to me because I could not bear to see and be told what to teach, when I knew it was not the best action, given the situation in the classroom. For example, I was ordered to teach the book, SPEAK, which, in and of itself, is a very traumatic novel about a young girl being raped. Given the lack of counseling available in our middle school at the time, and knowing that one of the girls had been a victim of rape, and it had been videotaped and released to the media and local TV station by the perpetrators (not their most clever move), it seemed there were thousands of novels that could have been read and discussed—why not avoid this, given the volatile situation of the time, since the perpetrators and the girl involved were both present in my class. My mere question brought a payload of grief and I was denied my request. The result: the girl broke down in sobs in the class. The result of this: I was reprimanded for not properly handling the situation, though letters were sent to the parents prior to the reading and students were given the option to beg off of the assignment. But, of course, my initial request was denied. And so another “failure” was added to my list of grievances. These are the types of injustice all the way around —using the students to create an impossible situation in order to stack issues against the teacher—it happens, and happened, and I have to let go of it. That is just one of the ten million stories. So when people say that if you want to get rid of someone, I understand completely. How the power of a position, creates monsters of us and we destroy the lives of those around us.
I think of Administrators, who walk the policy, and forget that the students are NOT clients, but human, growing beings. The legalism in this country has prevented many from being their true selves. People are afraid of standing up for others, for fear they may lose their jobs or positions. They will go so far as not telling the complete truth, to protect themselves and stay in the good graces of what is expected, regardless of the truth.
We see it everyday—especially, with the political games going on now. Racist and bigoted statements, people blaming other people to get ahead. The politicians today seem to create a pool of victims for the rest of us to drown, so we do not have to stop and look inside of us. People are so willing to jump on anyone who is different–the bigoted statements against Muslims and the subsequent physical attacks that have occurred because of the rhetoric used in campaign speeches. The attack on LGBT people, because of their sexual orientation—and because of who they are. Many states are now introducing legislation to nullify the effect of the Supreme Court ruling, honoring the relationship of LGBT people. WHY?
Various groups of people are being offered up as the reason for our domestic issues. Smacks of Nazism to me.
I think of nurses tied to their computers and not present to their patients’ needs because documentation has become the norm over care of the patient. I think of Social Workers, who walk the fine line and do not take the extra step that might make all of the difference to a positive outcome.
I think of the people who are homeless on our streets. If I stop to speak to them, what will it demand of me? I think of the person with a stroke or illness that leaves them speechless–how much does our own inadequacy of being present prevent us from being compassionate towards them. Instead we avoid them, talk around them like they are not there—their death happens soon enough.
Sometimes, I think we have pushed the YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL chant to the extreme, that our compassion towards one another has pushed us so far from each other, that now we have a country filled with alienated and lonely people. Suicide in this country is at an all time high and not just for the terminally ill, aged or despaired people—but among the young of our country. According to USA TODAY, suicide rate continues to climb since 1991. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/09/suicide-mental-health-prevention-research/15276353/) “In 2014, there were 42,773 deaths by suicide in the United States…”(http://save.org/facts)
Heroin addiction is growing –not reserved for the cities, but now dots the landscape of almost every little town in America.
We are all broken pieces, but our brokenness can enable us to be with others. We can help each other, if we are open and vulnerable and willing to step out of our comfort zone. We should not allow fear to replace compassion in our lives and in our interactions with others.
Deep listening is an art and it takes patience and practice. I think it can only be achieved if one takes time to listen to oneself. One has to take time each day to enter that deep moment of silence and profoundly listen to one’s own being. Self-reflection is imperative to growth.
I leave you and myself with this thought for today: “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Anne Frank, 1929-1945. Killed in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.