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Temple of My Familiar (An Excerpt)

Alice Walker included this poem in her novel Temple of My Familiar. She speaks to the challenge we face when we wait for others to do what needs to be done. They, in turn, wait for us to what needs to be done. It is a vicious, not virtuous circle.

In living and leading, the and others call each of us to be mindful and attentive to the world and people. My first language is French. I am not very fluent as an adult, but how the language is used seems imprinted on me. Being mindful and attentive is living and leading in proper relationships.

I recall my mother saying “ce n’est pas propre.” It is not proper and not right (vrai) or correct (correcte). Proper is a way of comporting one’s self and is an ethical position. When I hear politicians and pseudo-politicans say they followed the letter of the law, that is about being right and correct, not proper.

Aristotle spoke about praxis as an ethical practice in living one’s life. Goodness in this sense was the goal of living without knowing what that meant. When I wait for another to do the proper thing, I am not doing the proper thing.

To the extent that it is possible,

You must live in the world today

As you wish everyone to live

In the world to come.

That can be your contribution.

Otherwise, the world you want

Will never be formed. Why?

Because you’re waiting for others to do

What you’re not doing;

And they are waiting for you,

And so on.

Logos

Mary Oliver is a poet I turn to when I am searching. Since the American election I have searched and am trying to make meaning of the outcomes. I am not American so it is easy to think my vote and voice do not matter, but they do.

I have never voted for a conservative politician or message, but I am as conservative as I am a progressive, perhaps more so. John Dewey wrote we create sects around progressivism and conservativism as if they are cleaved off from each other.

The essential element is to preserve/converse what we value and what gives us life , discarding what is harmful to people and the world. Hans-Georg Gadamer suggested more tradition remains than is replaced and much it is taken-for-granted.

What is often taken-for-granted helps us navigate our personal worlds in the form of “legitimate prejudices.” When we encounter some one and some things that are different, Gadamer argued it opens us up to dialogue and eloquent questions that have no fixed answers.

What I am certain of is in the dialogue and eloquent questions there is no room for misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that further divide us. Logos is how we use words and reason as an ethical response to others who appear in our lives for some reason, which was the underlying message in Rumi’s The Guest House.

Mary Oliver offers a message about civil discourse that includes love we express through our words and the reasons we share those words with others. It is a message that comes to us from Jesus who gave his life as an act of unconditional love. When we say the right (in French it is proper which has to do with comportment) words, the wine expands.

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

Dreams To Reality Take Determination

Source: Dreams To Reality Take Determination

The Jesse Owens movie that is coming out is a reminder of the importance of dreams and a person’s determination to follow those dreams. We often forget his story and how he helped break down race barriers in a quiet way with his dreams and determination.

He attended Ohio State University without a scholarship, working several jobs, married, and found time to practice and compete. All this in an era when it would have been unusual and challenging for an African-American to attend an NCAA school like Ohio State.

Kathy worked with one of his grandchildren who told her that Jessie Owens was a quiet and humble man. He worked as a playground supervisor giving back to children and providing a positive role model for young people to follow. Jimmy Carter suggested Jessie Owens did more to break down racial barriers through his determination and his efforts were “a prelude to helping others.”

A Child Sits

Several years ago, during a lively family discussion about war, I was asked where I stood. Peace is simple, yet apparently unachievable. I am opposed to war on the grounds there is a Commandment: “Thou shall not kill!” This underpins all Abrahamic traditions which guide Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths. Furthermore, this premise is central to the Golden Rule which is universal.  Who suffers? Inevitably, it is the weakest, the most vulnerable.

A child sits–

Shivers

Is it the cold?

Hunger

Loneliness, fear

So fragile and weak

In desperate need.

Amidst war’s carnage–

No refuge

Only chaos

Military heroes wreak havoc

Who is the toughest?

The biggest bully?

Kick sand in a child’s eyes.

There is no right side

Real courage

Begs and pleads?

Stop

Wanton, senseless

Violence and death!

Who gains?

It does not take a hero to order bombs lobbed into civilian areas of cities. Nor does it take a hero to hide behind women and children when bombs are lobbed. Last night, I heard a talking head on TV ask who has the moral high ground. Is there really one when the objective of both sides is to punish the most vulnerable. What a silly question. There is no moral high ground in war only criminality.

True Transformation

This posting is not an original. Yesterday, I read a chapter in Jesus the Radical by Father John Dear SJ. I thought the list of ways easing human suffering, in some ways updated, was worth repeating.

“If we take time for daily prayer and sit quietly listening, our hearts will be disarmed of our inner violence” (p. 107).

The disarming of inner violence can happen and be heard in

  • in the silence of the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as we call and act for an end for nuclear proliferation;
  • in the voices of the Hibakushka, the atomic bomb survivors who call for total nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war;
  • in the laughter, longings, and cries of the world’s children, who look to us for peace;
  • in the poor and the marginalized, who suffer the fallout of our six-hundred-billion dollar budget for war. This is now understated. What good could be done with a mere fraction of that money?;
  • in the cry of liberation from the wrongly and unjustly imprisoned, the tortured, the homeless, the hungry, the ill, and the dying;
  • in the dead of Rwanda, Bosnia, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Central America, South America, Libya, Syria, China, and our own city streets, who cry out, “Stop the killing, stop the bombings, stop the violence;”
  • in all those who are different from us, who call us beyond the blindness of racism to the vision of a reconciled humanity, the beloved community;
  • in the faithful women of the world, who remain wide awake, announcing a paradigmatic shift, the fall of patriarchy and its hierarchy;
  • in the solitude of creation, from the mountaintops to the oceans; in the gentle rain and the silent breeze that call us to praise a God of peace, a God of Life;
  • in our own hearts, in our breath, in our prayer so we can go down the mountain to our cross or suffering in a spirit of love.

Adapted from Dear, J.  (2000). Jesus the rebel: Bearer of God’s peace and justice. Lanham, MD: Sheed & Ward.

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