Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In Exchange

The other day, I read an opinion piece in The Chronicle Herald, Halifax’s local paper.  It was at once brash, harsh, and held elements of truth taken to an extreme.  (Click here to read) Elements of truth or at least shards of a mirror.  On that same day between the front section of the local paper and the front section of The Globe and Mail, there were articles about the case against Bill Cosby ending in mistrial; the acquittal of the cop accused of fatally shooting Philando Castile; the fatal shooting by police of Charleena Lyles in Seattle; the death count from the devastating fire in Grenfell Tower in London; the death count from a forest fire in Portugal; a Dal medical student being found guilty of first degree murder for killing a fellow student from whom he was buying drugs to resell and finance his university studies. 

Venezuela has been in the papers; congressional hearings in the US; the shooting of a Republican congressman; a change in the laws about how many days someone can be put into solitary confinement in Canada’s prisons after an indigenous prisoner spent over a 1,000 days there; Vans driving into crowds

And on and on and on.

The issues are huge and the price is dear. In some ways, it seems the world is asking for our humanity in exchange for surviving reality. 

In asking for our humanity, we are invited to become numb.  Sink in to the anesthesia of over saturation, of violence, and ride the highway to/through hell in a handbasket car.

Or in asking for our humanity, the world is crying out for the best we have to offer. To take notice; to act with mercy, compassion, generosity; to bear the mantle of love’s sometimes difficult honor.

Both of these reflect our human nature. Indifference/self-interest/self-preservation and offering the best; welcoming; reaching out; believing in something grander and that something else is possible. The rich man who walked away; the good Samaritan who stopped.  Those calling for the woman to be stoned; The father who welcomed his child home again. 

There are terrible truths in our world.  But I can’t believe that’s the whole of it.  I need to know, to believe, that it isn’t a matter of having the world on one side of the scale and our job is to balance it out on the other side.  It’s about how we are making our way through…

We choose over and again on a very local, intimate, level, how we interact with what is real.  Sometimes, though, that “how” is the question.  How, when things loom so large, do we try to live out of our humanity in a way that helps the world spin a bit more smoothly, with a bit more decency, kindness, and joy?

So I asked people, 295 or so of them, if they’d be willing to compose a statement beginning with “I believe…” that reflected their own attempts at living that way in our world where beautiful and terrible things happen.  What follows is the result.

I believe that love is stronger than hate and love is stronger than death, and that all creation is ultimately held together in its embrace.

I believe that every person has a sacred worth and value.

I believe things can be better.

I believe in the power of love and the power of words and that both make a difference.

I believe Jesus cries with those who suffer and challenges people who are comfortable.

I believe happiness is a choice and love is the answer.

I believe smiling has a positive effect on friends and strangers.

I believe that women supporting other women is the most powerful magic in the world.

I believe that, although words are powerful, sometimes silent presence is our best gift to one another.

I believe that every life is precious—even the people in front of us every day.

I believe kindness is underrated.

I believe each person has a ‘core’ of goodness because we all were born with a good heart.

I believe in a higher power and the goodness of others.

I believe that treating people with consistent kindness is not just pleasant and right, but also logical and useful to everyone in the long run—meaning that it is pleasant, right, and smart.  I also believe that art (understood broadly) is one of the most important things human beings do or have.

I believe that everything happens for a reason.

I believe that we should seek the face of the Divine in everyone we encounter…and be that face to them.

I believe in wearing faith like a loose garment.

I believe that I am a work-in-progress and that self-reflection leads to growth.

I believe in kindness.

Thank you to those who responded.  Thank you for those I encounter daily who make these and other similar beliefs manifest.  World reality challenges me to look at my own behavior and my own humanity on scales large and small and make conscious choices about how I am in this world.  It is good that we journey together.


Becky said...

Thanks for lifting up that which is both kind and hopeful.

Unknown said...

The credo statements are prayer in and of themselves. Great piece! Yes, we need and must find our way through, and with a compassionate, tender heart.