Monday, October 29, 2012

The Greatest of These ~ Reflections on an Election

Photo by Lorna Dennis-Corso
A verse from the bible has been echoing in my heart during this election season - one that seems so fraught with anger.  Anger is not something to be ignored, but it seems inappropriate when it comes to who we are as a country and a community especially given the fact that when all is laid bare, we all want the same thing.  We all want to be happy.  We want to be safe.  We don't want anyone to suffer, especially the elderly, the infirm and the children.  And we want those children to have the chance to learn more and travel farther and be even safer and happier than we have been.

That verse comes from Corinthians 13 and is most commonly associated with weddings, not elections.  No matter, here it is: 

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Within a few days decisions will be made about who will be administering the laws of our land. Whoever 'wins' or 'loses' there are going to be a lot of angry people, if the papers and the social media are any reflection.

And it seems that we all have a decision to make.  Do we choose to be angry with the results if they aren't what we wanted?  Or do we choose another way?

 Angry isn't the way I want to go through life.  It isn't the way I want to be with my neighbors and friends and family based on what they believe in and why.  And it certainly isn't the way I want to react to the people elected to represent us and make the decisions about our city or state or nation.

For my part, I am praying to choose respect and a sense of wonder over anger.  I pray to remember that people I love and admire voted for the people that are elected.  I am praying to choose love over 'being right', whatever that is.  And I am praying to remember the last part of that bible verse.....

"Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Nothing Ever Goes Away

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
~ Pema Chodron ~


Hard words to hear unless we are in the midst of something wonderful or new and exciting.  

Most of the time, though, this idea comes to us when we are in the middle of a world of what seems to be hurt or sorrow or pain.  And at these times, the last thing anyone wants to hear is that it won't 'go away' until something is learned.  

But maybe that's why happiness and joy and laughter can seem so fleeting.  We learn quickly that this joy and this laughter are the ways we want to be - are meant to be - in the world.  We learn quickly and so it leaves us in order for the next lesson. 

It is the sorrow and suffering part that seems to be the hardest to figure out and seemingly the most enduring or constant parts of our life.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  How can a loving, omnipresent and omnipotent Presence or Spirit or God or Divine, if there is one, allow the kinds of suffering that seem so prevalent?  People are starving.  Children die of diseases that are non-existent in more 'advanced' nations.  Tsunamis and hurricanes wash away towns and lives and livelihoods.  Sons are killed in battle and daughters are used cruelly. 

If God truly cared, wouldn't all this suffering be unnecessary? Why does it seem some are born to a lifetime of sorrow and others seem to be uncommonly blessed?  How can we escape it?  How can we be safe and happy?  What will guarantee that we will never hurt again?

From these questions all religions have been born.  From this wondering,  answers have been devised to keep generations of people tied to varying belief systems.  (Superstitions, some would say.)  And big business has been made from the promise of an easier life in the hereafter. 

Is it possible, though, that we have to endure this life to get to the next?  Maybe 'endure' is even too harsh.  What if living this life with all its pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disgrace, gain and loss experienced to the fullest is the key to true peace and happiness?

Jesus said the poor would always be among us.  The Buddha said that life is suffering, and made that tenet the first of four 'noble truths'.

Maybe it is as simple as knowing that all things pass, good and bad, and that the more we cling to anything, the more unsatisfied we are.  Is it only by accepting and letting go of anything and everything that things will flow more easily into and away from our experience?

Maybe a better question to ask is 'What am I contributing?'  If what I contribute is anger and fear and aversion of any kind, then maybe what I am contributing allows that which I want to push away from me to be fed by those emotions.  And hungry animals have a tendency to stay close to the master that feeds them.  

What I want to contribute is love and kindness toward a situation or person for whatever 'is'.  That doesn't mean I approve or condone, it just means that I see and understand that it is there partly for my benefit - for my chance to learn something about me that I didn't know before. 

If my contribution is equanimity, then hungry animals either decide to feed elsewhere, or they decide to change their diet.  

Either way, everyone wins.