Thank heavens for the sunrise! (This shot was not this morning, but a while back. It looks like this a lot up here on our ridge, so this works. Anyway with jus 8 weeks left in this house, I’m rehearsing the things I want to remember. Like this.)
Contemplation of the sheer splendor brings peace of mind and awe at the beauty of creation. Even more importantly, it reminds me that all we really have is today: this sun will also set today. All the joys and sorrows sufficient for a lifetime are here during our one day at a time. I can choose to live it with gratitude or or worry.
There’s so much happening these days which is not what I’d come to expect or want or condone. About all I can do about most of it is to say my piece. But even there, I’ve come to realize that when I’m spewing out venom, even well phrased venom with footnotes, in the end all I can be certain of is that I’m upset. For an Old Guy like me, being upset could be fatal.
So what then is the voice I want to use, the thought that I want to rehearse by writing and publishing it that won’t wind up with a backfire too strong for my old body and mind to handle?
The only way I know involves working at being spiritually fit to be of maximum service to those around me. For those who think spirituality involves religion, let me explain: I do not mean religious. I don’t want organized religion involved in this at all. For so much of it, the belief systems cast in concrete for every sect make denominiational religion exclusionary rather that inclusive. That’s exactly the problem right now: every interest group seems to have the one and only right “answer”, a well justified and staunchly defended self righteousness. That’s a negative spirituality. A close synonym for spiritual is attitudinal.
It’s hard. It feels like being irresponsible. Shouldn’t I be cutting up those I dislike with razor sharp sarcasm? Shouldn’t I be arguing in public, right here, to show how dangerously wrong and evil “they” are? Isn’t that my responsibility in the shoot first and talk later culture?
How can it be responsible, however, to act in ways which only make matters worse? When has escalation of aggression ever achieved anything but more of the same, building pressure until it all explodes? Aren’t we running awfully close to that line? Take a look around. Have we not let our exchanges become like verbal shootouts? Have we not become the dwelling place of grim pain, a rolling ball of false joys? Is not our dominant culture now infused with a negative, exclusionary, divisive spirituality, in the divisiveness of which powerful groups have deeply vested interests? And just how well is that working?
I’m tired of all the tempest and tribulation, the verbal shoot-outs in the sheeps clothing of “conversation, chats, interviews, etc..”. I’m worn down by the constant animosity and televised discussions in which even the moderators join in the verbal melees, even when I agree with them. I’m angry at those who work to increase the animosity rather than find common ground. Their growing success frightens me. I’m tired of having to shave, shape and wordsmith what I say to whom so as not to trigger some explosion of self-righteous indignation that will kill what little common context is left. And the childish name calling and adolescent bullying: see the name of the Penn and Teller Showtime series.
I suppose we must ride this rollercoaster of rage all the way to the bottom before it begins to come back up and lose its searing steam, finally. It is hard to think of an example of any nation so addicted to adversarial animosity as we may be, which had decided to talk its way out of its conflict. 30 Years War? No. World War I: no. World War 2: no. Vier Nam: no. The US Civil War, no. The Brits and the Falklands: no. The US in Afghanistan or Iraq? No. No. No.
Throw in this: in order to actually hear and understand what others are saying, I-you-we must have enough cool and confidence in out self images to be able to table our thoughts long enough to check whether we have understood the other correctly. And that’s not just saying glibly: I understand. Penn and Teller again! You don’t understand squat until the person sending the message says you repeated it back correctly. Just how often have we heard that happen recently anywhere with anyone? Seldom if never? Then how on earth do we ever expect to find common ground? And without common ground, how on earth can a democracy survive?
As usual, it comes down to me. I can’t ask you to change unless I do. Quid pro quo. And it won’t be perfect. We will hav to collaborate to rebuild.
I hope against hope that we won’t hit bottom and just shatter. I must remember that I am part of what created this rolling disaster because it happened on my watch. If this is to change, then I need to change my tune also. Saying that “they” did this and “they” must be defeated, changed, eliminated etc will still leave us with the Divide. Resisting what is clearly inconsistent with the principles of democracy and human rights(see: A. Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address): yes, but passive only. And in the process, at least I can try to offer something which builds and reflects my gratitude and joy, rather than pouring more gasoline onto the conflagration.
At least for today.