12 February 2010

Speaking of Faith

Speaking of Faith on NPR

I can't say enough how much I love this show. Look at the archives. Amazing.

Also for your Friday, the work of Kara Walker:

Arresting. Fascinating. Mortifying. True.

Last night we watched the Howard Zinn documentary You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train and read a letter Alice Walker wrote in remembrance of him. What a couple of open hearts. I most appreciated that she identified with him (and her father) around cultivating compassion for those in the positions of oppression - soldiers, police officers - and "look[ing] for signs of humanity in their opponents and [speaking] to that." The idea of compassion is not pity, it is not even sympathy. Compassion is an exchange between equals (roughly paraphrased from Pema Chodron), and that's why true compassion has the only real chance of breaking through misunderstanding, of poking holes in dogma and cracking open myopia. Howard Zinn is just a guy. He's a guy who is the son of immigrants, who worked hard on a shipyard, who bombed Europe in World War II, who went to school, struggled, taught, parented, and took the time to see people around him.

We'd all be activists if we took the time to see each other. We would all fight -isms and -lessness if we softened up enough for long enough to touch compassion, to risk feeling the pain of inspiration so that it would effect some action on our part. That chasm between the fleeting feeling of "Oh..." as we watch or listen to the news and accompanying action is so, so abysmal. It is deep, but not wide. We feel, we walk up to the edge, and we look down. And we go and sit back down. If we feel, walk up to the edge, and look ahead, the leap is small but tremendously risky. But still small. It could be as easy as a hop across a puddle. Even falling down the chasm is worthwhile. When you first wake up, it does feel like falling. Nothing is as it was, nothing is stable, solid, secure, safe. You fall and your breath becomes shallow. As you fall are you screaming? Or could you feel carried by the air and look around while falling.

Anyway, that kind of went on a tangent, but the whole idea is an invitation to see. It might hurt, but the pain is merely a reminder that you're able to feel. Merely an ache that can dissipate with engagement, right intention, and the smallest but most genuine of gestures. Only see.

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