Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Be the Light

So, there is no doubt that this past weekend was not an easy one to watch the news.  School shooting in Sandy Hook, shooting in Memphis, school stabbings in China, shooting of women making polio-vaccinations in Pakistan, it is just depressing to read the news these days.  These events are not contained to the United States, they are worldwide. 
When tragic, terrible events like this happen, it always opens the door to questions.  What can we do about gun control to prevent this?  What about healthcare to help the mentally disabled, how can fix that?  How do we fight bullying in school?  Does the media cover these events the right way?  How? Why? What?
Always so many questions get asked.  Now, there is no way I am going to pretend that I could answer any of these questions.  Not even going to try. Instead I want to look at things in a different light.
When events like this happen, we think a lot about evil and all the darkness in the world.  We struggle to understand why and how so much darkness persists in the world.  Where is God?  Where is the light?
This past Sunday, these events were discussed in our 10th-12th grade Formation class.  And one question that came from our discussion was, “What can we do?” 
Below is a post from a mother who had a conversation like this with her daughter.  How can one person change the world? 
My daughter asked this the other day, as we walked along the bike path, the sea murmuring at our side, low bushes thick to the east and west. A small wren darted near our feet, its tail erect and bright blue. A new housing development sat squat on the headland, looking over a dense history of waves, of spirit, of sun and moon rise, and the endless calls of birds.

Here is where deep spirit lies, the local Aboriginals say. There is an indigenous tent embassy set up by the beach, by the water. People are still listening to the living, breathing land, here and elsewhere.

"How can one person change the world?" my daughter asked. "I'm just one person. Humans have done so much damage—it makes me sad. I can't change it."

"You already are changing it," I said. Her hand lay small and soft in mine. Her feet walked in time with mine, her eyes watching everything, noticing, listening. "You are changing it by living your truth," I said. Which sounded so very ambiguous and new agey but that's how we talk. We talk like hippies in our house, and idealists and impossible adventurers.

"But," she said, "I can't make a difference. One person can't."

"One person can, and does, all the time. Their voice speaks out, then it adds to another person's voice and another person's voice, and all of a sudden…"

People start to listen. It can begin with a single voice. Think of Gandhi, and Buddha, and Jesus, and Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks. Think of people camped in treetops trying to save old growth rain forests. Think of a girl baking cookies to raise money for the RSPCA. Think of an Israeli man posting a 
message of love to Iranian people on his Facebook page, and then it spreading, Iranians posting messages in return, a great sweep of peace rising. Think of a President speaking out for marriage equality.

Think of the small acts people do every day— smiling at others, including others, listening to others, sharing with others. Think of passionate people, creative people, questioning people, people who care so much about this planet and the living things on it that they can't help but speak out. They make a difference by living their truth, by spreading compassion, by loving others. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Remember this the next time you feel surrounded by darkness.  All it takes it’s a single glimmer of light.  Be that light.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.”
-The Buddha

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