Like you, I am gutted by the state of the world right now and the unthinkable devastation so many people in the Middle East and elsewhere are facing. My mind can’t grasp the power and domination hunger of some at the expense of so many. My heart can’t hold the degree of pain, traumatization, and hopelessness beautiful, innocent people are experiencing.
As much as anyone, I want there to be clear answers, a right way forward, and one obvious villain to bring to justice, the end. And yet, this is not even close to the reality people are facing. Paradox is insistent on being present in every corner of this murderous mess, as it is in every other corner of life.
I’m learning, I’m listening, and I’m trying my best to be discerning (what a job this is for us all right now). I’m also noticing that while social media is allowing the world to see what isn’t being shown to us by the mainstream media, it’s also bringing out the very worst in humanity. (Hello again, paradox.)
I am not of the mindset that we should all be looking at the images and watching every video. That’s the quickest way to render me frozen and ineffective, and I know I’m not alone. I’m sure people will call out my privilege, because, of course, I can afford not to look, but I don’t believe that the whole world trauma responding is going to help anything. Jacking everyone’s nervous systems and fighting an information war on top of everything else is not a path to peace.
Instead, I’m taking in information when I have the bandwidth for it, offering grief vigils to my community, getting outside, donating and writing to my representatives, gathering with fellow open-hearted humans, and singing and dancing my prayers for peace.
If you haven’t come across it already, Deepa Iyer’s Social Change Ecosystem theory is a beautiful model to get familiar with right now. I believe we all have essential roles to play in moments such as these (and every other moment filled with both horrors and beauty, which is, of course, every other moment). I am clear on the roles I am meant to play, and hope you might contribute from your most aligned gifts as well. The world needs us all grounded in our gifts right now.
Take care of yourselves, friends. Tend to your grief and let nature nourish you. Also, donate to organizations supporting peace, unity, and healing for all.
End dehumanization. Ceasefire now.
Peace. Peace. Peace.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
–Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye