Just a reminder what Christmas is all about. Take some time out from your busy day, grab the partner and your kids and watch a couple of videos that will warm your heart and make you smile. Then look at your loved ones, give them a hug, and remember that none of the material stuff will matter to anyone down the road. The only thing we remember is whether or not we were loved and the time we spend with one another says that louder than anything else.
“It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing. What is most beautiful is least acknowledged.” Laura McBride
An estimated 500,000 women are trafficked every year into sexual slavery and even when caught the perpetrators are seldom held accountable. Excused by a justice system that is corrupt, they continue to treat human beings as if they are nothing more than mere bodies for them to do with as they please. Again, in order for these pigs to do what they do, they are supported by people who know what is going on, who see what is going on and who do nothing. They are supported by all the people who pay to use these women, caring nothing that these women are there against their will.
These women are taken and forced into prostitution because they are poor and desperate or they are victims of war and of natural disasters. They have no hope to help themselves and have few options. It is not uncommon for them to be burdened with a need for money for healthcare for themselves or loved ones. We talk about not being able to catch the perpetrators as if that is the answer. Why aren’t we doing more about poverty? Why is it we are so afraid to peel back the layers of our damaged world, to get beyond the symptoms and address the actual source? While the fish is great when you are starving, the fishing pole and directions not only feed the body, they feed the soul. People want the right to self-determine, to create their own lives and make their own choices. You know, like all of us privileged first world people do. When did we get to the point where first aid was it. We arrive at the scene of the accidents, stem the blood flow, and then leave them by the side of the road to die.
THIS is an issue that women should be caring about and speaking to. How dare we complain about inequality and our first world issues when there are women being treated like this. Where is our compassion?? How can we justify our outrage over our right to equal pay and complaining that we cannot buy a new designer purse without a raise in our salary when there are women who just want the right to not be taken from their families and raped every night by dozens of men? We are outraged by the rich and famous having their “ass grabbed,” how about listening to the nightmare that these women live with? And before someone else comes up with some ridiculous, social media sign of solidarity, “me too” campaign, this is a problem that requires real help. I don’t know that we can fix the damage that has been done to those who manage to escape but I do know that those who are still there right now, have no chance unless we decide that they matter.
I doubt very much that at the end of this life we get to smile and say we helped because we wrote “me too” on a computer screen, or because we burned incense for them one night. Life is real. Suffering is real. This is our world and whether doing nothing may be our most damning crime.
“The slogan “Don’t misinterpret” means don’t impose the wrong notion of what harmony is, what compassion is, what patience is, what generosity is. Don’t misinterpret what these things really are. There is compassion and there is idiot compassion; there is patience and there is idiot patience; there is generosity and there is idiot generosity. For example, trying to smooth everything out to avoid confrontation, to not rock the boat, is not what is meant by compassion or patience. That’s what is meant by control. Then you are not trying to step into unknown territory, to find yourself naked with less protection and therefore more in contact with reality. Instead, you use the idiot forms of compassion and so forth just to get ground.
When you open the door and invite in all sentient beings as your guests, you have to drop your agenda. Many different people come in. Just when you think you have a little scheme that is going to work, it doesn’t work. It may be very beneficial to one person, but when you try it on the next person, he looks at you as if you’re crazy, and when you try it on somebody else, she gets insulted. Coming up with a formula won’t work. You don’t know what’s going to help, but all the same you need to speak and act with clarity and decisiveness. Clarity and decisiveness come from the willingness to slow down, to listen to look at what’s happening. They come from opening your heart and not running away. Then your actions and speech accord with what needs to be done – for you and for the other person.” Pema Chödrön
Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective. This is special.
When I got married, many of my peers had an expectation of a good life ahead of them. It never occurred to any of us that we would not have houses and cars, big TV’s and wonderful vacations. Of course we would. Our parents had those things and so would we. Every generation heads off into the world with expectations that include what their parents had. We all failed to realize our parents worked many years for those things and it was ridiculous for us to feel entitled to them without also working and saving. Life might have taught us some valuable lessons in reality but my generation embraced credit and now a personal debt is an expectation. No-one waits for anything anymore. Immediate gratification was something we taught our kids with every purchase we made. So now, we have grandkids who, like us, feel they have a right to everything their parents have, and their disconnect with the hard work that provides those things is almost complete. Enter the sense of entitlement we all complain about today. Continue reading
The Easter message is that we can be forgiven. It is that we can change. We can take our lives, and all the mistakes, and all our troubles, and choose a different path. We can walk a path that is blessed with the wisdom of the lessons learned, and a better knowing of who we are.
This is how we heal the world. Forgiveness is not just for us, it is not just a gift given by a man who died on the cross . . . it is a gift we must extend to others. Our forgiveness. We must learn to say, “I forgive you” and to make a space in our lives for people to choose a different path. We need to support their struggles to learn and grow. We have to let go of our idea of who they were, and encourage their journey.
All around us are people who have lost their way, who would give anything to have a second chance, to start over with a different ending. People suffer their losses of loved ones, of jobs, of self and they suffer alone, often further burdened by the judgments of the people who surround them. We label people with their mistakes. There goes the “drug addict,” the “drunk,” the “thief,” the “loser.” She had a baby before she was married. His wife left him. He got fired. Years pass, and still, we hold onto those labels, imprisoning people in their mistakes.
Had their mistakes not been made public, they would be safe and secure with everyone else, judging those whose sins are pinned to them in bright scarlet for all to see. Continue reading
“So each of us has a choice. You have a choice. Your thoughts can make you and the world around you suffer more or suffer less. If you want to create a more collegial, harmonious atmosphere in your… community, don’t start by trying to change other people. Your first priority should be to find your own quiet space inside so you can learn more about yourself. This includes getting to know and understand your own suffering. When your practice is solid and you’ve already harvested some of the sweet fruits of getting to know yourself, you can consider ways you can make more room to bring silence, deep looking, understanding, and compassion into your… community.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Some people see limits where other people see possibilities. Some people say, “I can’t” when others always “can.” Some people give up and others never quit trying.
Somewhere in the pain of life we find our path. We fight against our circumstances which are always more than we ever knew. We curse God. We hurt the people we love the most. We run until we realize we can never outrun ourselves and there is nothing to do but to sit with those circumstances and learn the lessons.
How lonely we all are in our own lives, swinging away at our demons and fighting off the monsters that stalk us through the night. How much easier life would be if we could only stop working so hard at keeping up our image that all of life’s lessons seem to assert as the only thing worth fighting for. We have to be strong. We have to be successful. We have to be perfect… even when all we want to do is cry. Continue reading