Daily Archives: November 4, 2012

Change What You Can Change

I don’t know about you, kind and gentle reader, but I’m with Abbie: I’m ready for this election to be over. I don’t like competition, get no joy from a good debate, am so uncomfortable when people are angry and fighting and upset, and hate to argue. I remember once, sitting at an intersection where opposing sides were picketing across the street from each other, random people yelling from their cars or honking, so much noise and chaos, and I asked myself “which side would you be on?” and the answer made me laugh out loud, “I’d rather make everybody cookies.”

And it’s true, I’m a peacemaker. I always have been. It’s my nature. I avoid discussing religion or politics, including here on my blog. Philosophy and faith I’ll talk about, but I steer clear of anything that would spark a real dispute. I don’t want anyone to miss the more important message, to be cheated out of a kindness because they disagree with my politics. I want my blog to be a safe place for every reader, for them to come here and realize they are not alone, to inspire good things to happen.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion on things. But stronger than my opinion is my commitment to promoting love and kindness, the sense that our time would be better spent changing what we can change than arguing about things we can’t control.

I’ve read a few things in this past week that have said it better than I could. One is Courtney Carver’s Make Your Vote Count on her blog Be More With Less, in which she says

If you want your vote to count, to really matter:

  • Vote for your health by eating good food, mostly plants.
  • Vote for your community by volunteering with local organizations.
  • Vote to feed hungry people by giving freely.
  • Vote for your friendships by saying “I’m sorry” and “I love you”.
  • Vote for your happiness by taking a walk.
  • Vote for your children by listening to them.

Your health and happiness is not dependent on who will be sitting in the Oval Office. Policy may change, but you will be ok. Vote with your dollars. Vote with your time. Vote with your heart. Make it count.

And then Susan Piver posted Only Us: Beyond Republican and Democrat, in which she says

Right now, we have a chance to take a view that is so much larger than Obama or Romney, Us or Them, My Way or The Highway. Without budging an inch in what we believe and whom we support, we could take a moment, just a millisecond, to imagine that the “other” side feels as much passion, despair, longing, and fear about the election as we do. We could care about each other, American to American… In these attitude shifts, even if we can only hold on to them for a moment, everything is possible. We could at least try.

We are all in this together, we can make a difference in the world, ease suffering, even if it’s just our own, even if it’s only temporary–we can at least try.

One of the greatest enigmas of human behavior is the way we isolate ourselves from each other. In our misguided perception of separation we assume that others are not sharing a similar experience of life. We imagine that we are unique in our eccentricities or failures or longings…When we don’t share the secret ache in our hearts—the normal bewilderment of being human—it turns into something else. Our pain, and fear, and longing, in the absence of company, become alienation, and envy, and competition. ~Elizabeth Lesser, The Open Secret

Elizabeth Lesser “The Open Secret” from Omega Institute on Vimeo.

We have so much opportunity to make a difference. Our true power as citizens, as humans goes so far beyond a single vote or series of elections. Once these events are over, our community, our world will still have the same issues. People will still be hungry, not have access to clean water or adequate medical care, there will be illness and dis-ease, we will still be confused about so many things–the same suffering as the day before. And we’ll still have the exact same chance to change it or ignore it, to help or start an argument or walk away.

Change what you can change. One thing we can all change for certain is ourselves, so start there. Beyond that, get involved with someone’s good work, or start a project of your own. If you need ideas, here’s a list of people and groups doing good work:

Donate to Charity : Water, I am donating my birthday to them this year.

Join Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project. This will help with changing yourself, or rather becoming brilliantly aware of who you already are, awake and kind and wise and strong.

Donate to Heifer International, one of my favorite charities.

Donate to or volunteer with your local food bank.

Give to the Sandy Relief Effort.

Go to Kiva or Kickstarter and find a project or person to help.

The Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” I agree with that statement, “I resemble that remark,” and would add one more thing to it: my politics are simple–kindness. In that spirit, I am working to change what I can change, to help who I can help, to do what good I can do, and I so hope you will join me, my kind and gentle reader.

P.S. Looks like I answered the NaBloPoMo prompt a day early: “What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?”

Day of Rest

At one point in Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, (gifted to me by the most generous and open-hearted Sherry Richert Belul), she describes rest this way:

when you put down the burden of striving and a sense of well-being spreads like honey into every corner of your consciousness…no where else to go, nothing to do, no one to be–just now, just this precious day

Kind and gentle reader, may we all find this honey flavored rest today. May we let go and sink into it, surrender to it, this precious day.