THE EARTH AND AMERICA ARE IN OUR HANDS
If you are like me, you are often undone or overwhelmed by the bad news on so many fronts. Staying positive and not becoming engulfed by despair, depression, outrage, disbelief or grief is a full-time job. The suffering that is going on right now is huge. So I want to share some thoughts and wisdom from two people I have great respect for as support and encouragement in these difficult times. One is author and activist Rebecca Solnit. The other is Father Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I hope they will help you stay calm, positive and active in the coming months. I encourage you to read the full text from Fr. Rohr. It is wise and provocative, especially his advice at the end which I only paraphrase.
Rebecca Solnit on Hope and Action:
"Listen, I know most of you are heartsore and weary, and the past four years have been a long rough road, and those of us in the west can find dismay just by looking out the window today, but don’t stop now. The election matters, what we do matters, including for climate change, and we can do some things to address the many layers of suffering around us, and if we can we must. . . . We have more to do, and doing it is itself a way to assuage despair, misery, fear. Hope is a discipline, Marianne Kaba said, and it matters most when it’s hardest. Right now it doesn’t mean envisioning rosy futures; It means knowing that the worst case scenarios are not inevitable, and every day we are choosing together what direction we head in.
"It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not a belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. . . Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes—you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting."
Fr. Richard Rohr offers three verses as sources of guidance and commentary for these times.
The first writing is by Etty Hillesum who was killed in Auschwitz in 1943.
"There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there, too. . . And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters: that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves."
Then, Psalm 62:5-9
In God alone is my soul at rest.
God is the source of my hope.
In God I find shelter, my rock, and my safety.
Men are but a puff of wind,
Men who think themselves important are a delusion.
Put them on a scale,
They are gone in a puff of wind.
And lastly, W.B. Yeats poem, "The Second Coming."
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Fr. Rohr's full commentary on these verses as they relate to our times is well worth reflecting on. Briefly, his final guidance is that we limit our intake of news, which has become increasingly speculative and hysterical. It will, he says, "tear us apart." Instead we should focus our energies on what we can do to contribute positive thought and action in these next months.
Another useful bit of advice I read was how anxiety breeds a sense of powerlessness, so our best counter to that is . . . DO SOMETHING.
Read the full text from Fr. Rohr here: Some simple but urgent guidance to get us through these next months
(Image courtesy of YES! magazine.)
Back to Blog