When Confronted with Injustice and Tragedy

When confronted with injustice and tragedy, (which is a frequent event if we keep up with the news)

Do not merely ask, “Who could do such a thing?” 

Also ask, “Help me recognize the depth of pain, loneliness, and anger in humans who think of doing such things.”

Do not merely ask, “How could something so terrible have happened?”

Also ask, “How can I be more in touch with the painful, tragic things that are happening in people’s lives all over the world, right now.”

Do not merely ask, “How can I physically protect myself and my family from this evil?”

Also ask, “How can I  psychologically shield myself and others from despair and live a courageous life in spite of tragedy?”

Angry, Miserable, and Unremembered

Upon seeing the anger in the eyes of a menial laborer working in atrocious conditions, author Gregory David Roberts says to the fry cook with his eyes, “I’m sorry that you have to do this work, I’m sorry that your world, your life, is so hot and dark and unremembered, I’m sorry that I’m intruding…”

With those lines, the author not only captured my interest in the book, but, most importantly, the kinship of my agony for the “incarceration” of countless souls who live unremembered and hopeless in darkness and drudgery.

Even though my personal agony was small by comparison, for years I felt imprisoned in mediocrity and anonymity, doing a job I didn’t like. Now, I cannot stand to see anything in a cage. I feel the silent rage of so many: refugees, strangers I encounter, and others I know well.

My prayer is that those of us who remember the pain will bring…

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However and whenever we can.

Dark Messages from the Night

I wake peacefully in an orderly room.

Yet, here, in the dazzling new light

Myriads of dark voices speak from the night

Of sirens, terror, and trouble

Obliterated rooms in cities of rubble

I throw off the cover and move fluidly to my feet

Hearing pained whispers of those incomplete

With missing limbs, children, and necessary things

My face wet with water while the desktop dings

Then, I choose my breakfast from a chilled collection

While feeble voices moan for help and protection

It is there I digest the message, You are not quite safe

Perched here, precariously, on the edge of fate 

 

This poem is not about fear, it is about awareness of the troubles millions experience on this planet right now, and about how easy it is to be oblivious to, and surprised by, the imminence of change.

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Dig Deep or Just Go with It?

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Spouting simple answers has always come natural to me. I am on a remedial path now.

Journalist and self-described, “Industrious Optimist,” Lara Setrakian used this cartoon illustration in her TedTalk about improving the “adult education” that comes from news reporting, away from fear and simplicity toward the wholeness (or integrity) of complex truths.

Following the road less traveled, entering the narrow gate, education of the heart, enlightenment, and truth all depend upon the gravitas of love not dogma; giving the benefit of the doubt and resisting fiery indictments, ethnocentrism, and condemnations long enough to grasp the deep kinship we share with fellow residents at this very temporary, planetary address.

We all must decide. Go with the herd on the easy path, eventually terminating at the cliff, or take the longer, lonelier path and brave the uphill climb?

A Balanced Inventory

I may not be happy with numerous things in the world…but, I am happy with a gazillion other things (like clean water and internet access).

I may have aged a lot in the last few years…but, my face has fewer bumps (because I have a dermatologist who took them off).

I may have  a larger waist…but, I have a larger purpose too (because being attractive was never a sustainable project).

I may have fewer admirers…but, I have learned to do the admiring (because, after all these years, I have finally accepted myself, which, by the way, gives me more time to admire others).

Because, it is so important to give myself a broader perspective (on issues both large and small), I have made a pact with myself to always balance the info I allow in my head. If I am fed bad news, I feed myself good news. It’s that simple. It’s not being Pollyanna positive, it’s being productively practical; just opening my eyes a little wider.

I am in charge of the feed.

Thank you Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield for your example: http://www.interestingshit.com/nature/good-news-stories/

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Alone, Weird, Unfortunate, and Absolutely Inspiring

On the History Channel series, Alone, Callie North appears to be disconnected with reality when she first builds herself a chair instead of a shelter. (She used the chair to sit and admire the beauty of her Patagonia “home!”)

Later, it becomes clear that she knew the priority of fortifying her mind with beauty and gratitude in order to sustain her body through the rigors of the ordeal. While her competitors were wrestling with their demons of hunger and discontent, Callie appeared physically and mentally strong, even light-hearted. If not forced to tap out due to infected spider bites, her unorthodox strategy may have brought her the win.

It certainly brought me inspiration…and the message to keep my priorities right.

(I don’t usually watch this series, but so glad I “met” Callie North!)

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http://www.history.com/shows/alone/cast/callie-north

Today, I Inaugurate Myself

Today, I inaugurate myself

As the commander in chief of my own future

I celebrate my promotion

To the role of the productive leader

Of my life, full of promise and hope

Out off yesterday’s role of

Chicken little, hopeless victim, or discouraged martyr

Today I will usher myself

With a flourish and a solemn promise

Into my new position of power

Supported by the noble and the brave

Who have gone before, and will come after

Those who chose, and will choose

Action over words

Mercy over malice

And resolve over fear

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It’s a Good Start for the New Year

If you haven’t already done so…

New Years Day is a perfect time to challenge yourself to go twenty-four hours without saying anything negative, critical, or fearful, AND catch those thoughts (that led to the words) before they have a chance to become destructive. It’s a small request…sort of.

It is actually much more difficult than it sounds since most of us have been on auto pilot for quite a while when it comes to complaining, criticizing, and condemning. On my first try, I was reeling from the quantity of thoughts and words that needed retrieving. I hardly had time to do anything else! But, removing my toxins from the airspace and using the space for productivity instead benefited so many people that it was well worth the effort.

And, there was another lingering benefit: my awareness.

Once I realized how whacked my everyday words and thoughts were, I had the impetus for serious change. So…I did it again. And again. Until now. And the beneficiaries will be:

  • me
  • you
  • friends
  • coworkers
  • family
  • strangers
  • politicians
  • people (such as me) who need the benefit of a doubt

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Have a REAL Happy New Year…for a change.

What Pearl Harbor Day Can Do For Me Today

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  1. Remind me that life is much larger than my own drama.
  2. Confront me with my need for historical knowledge.
  3. Challenge me to care about the millions everywhere who suffer in the wake of war.
  4. Confirm the fragile nature of life as I know it.
  5. Give me a sense of urgency to contribute good to the world.

Those of us who are younger than WWII most likely will think of the movie or give the day a passing nod. But, if we choose to give it more than that, we will be the beneficiary.

Our short lives are pleading for us

Begging for us to stop and care

Our mission here might simply be

To be aware

Even When I Thought I Knew

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what happened at Pearl Harbor until I was confronted with the stories of a family who never received the remains of their son, missing in action from the USS Oklahoma, and from survivors who were stuck in the upturned hull of the USS Arizona for thirty hours, watching hundreds of their shipmates drown while desperately waiting for rescue.

As in this sad case, I have often assumed I knew more than I did, and so offended those who really knew.

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When I reach for a broader knowledge of things I have not experienced (instead of assuming I understand), I honor the suffering of those who really know. When the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor comes on Dec 7th, I’ll be prepared to learn.