I am just like you. I live, I work, I try to fulfill my duties as a citizen and as a professional and yet, I am stuck. I would even say “haunted.” And I’m wondering if you are, too. In the following anecdote, typical of what happens to me, I’ll tell you why.
In my bedroom, a Time magazine sits meekly on the bureau. A picture of a handsome Islamic boy looks out from the cover. An article and more pictures of the god-awful tragedy in Beslan, Russia, are within, begging my attention and reflection.
Two of the magazine’s photos are especially memorable and, after reading the articles, I can vividly see those images in my mind days later. The first shows a group of agonizing schoolboys, in tears and bewilderment, huddled together against a backdrop of terror. The second depicts the somber, black-clad Russian leader, his face pale and ghostlike. Surrounded by associates, he, nonetheless, bears an aura of solitude, as though inwardly reckoning with the full burden of the tragedy: the lives horribly wasted, the devastation, the pain that will never go away or abate. Having denied the validity of the specter of terrorism, he is now being forced to acknowledge the reality of its unquenchable fury.
As are we all.
Russia one day, and who will be next?
I told you that I was haunted. But it’s not by the fear that I may be next. It’s because I feel that I am connected to those people in Russia and that their suffering impacts my life to the degree that I can’t live as if I didn’t know. As if it didn’t happen. The tragedies and needs of the world are real in an outer and inner sense. They are my own. I feel that I participate with all human beings, no matter how remote or isolated they are from me, and whether they are victims or perpetrators.
I know that’s odd. Lots of people don’t understand why such things impact me so deeply. But wait, there’s more. The other part of it is that I feel that I must do something to help. Going to work every day, visiting parks or malls on the weekend, relating to family and friends, reading … is not enough. I feel I have to do something, change my life, find an answer.
And then it happens. I run full-face into a solid wall. My hands are so small, my talents too limited, my love too abstract, too needy in itself. Do you know what I mean?
On the positive side, I do believe in the power of the individual to effect changes. Everyone has heroes and heroines who conquered obstacles, freed others, and sometimes paid with their lives. It’s just that where’s a good hero or heroine right now, when you need one?
Here’s my conclusion, and I don’t have time to make it fancy or more pleasing to you. My life is my offering to the world. Simple. That’s my “answer.” It works this way: Every day it is the suffering of the world, embedded in my mind and heart, that informs me how to live. So, for example, in my work as a teacher, I make a practice of greeting each and every student who walks into the classroom in the morning in the most special and loving way I can. I honor each one, for each one is emblematic of the world of children. Isn’t that a radical thought? Here’s why I do it. I believe that each human being is a fantastic miracle, in and of himself/herself. Worthy of unconditional love and in need of it. I also believe that in so honoring each child with love, I am actually planting seeds of love within each one. And that love itself is the best enabler, the most potent teacher, the most powerful hero/heroine, for creating beings who will live consciously and nobly in the world, now and in the future. Isn’t that what the world needs?
Yet who am I to preach to the world? I am no one. But in the words of Emily Dickinson, “I am nobody. Who are you?” Would you like to combine your thoughts with mine? Does what I say make sense? Perhaps together we can make this page of Seeds an interactive journal of sharing our different “ways” with each other, our experiments in living with an expanded state of consciousness, so to speak.