A friend sent me this quotation after a particularly violent and challenging week in American life and it touched into an awareness that’s been growing in me over recent years. There is so much suffering within our human family, so many acts of cruelty and violence around the world, and we are aware of so much more of it with the Internet. Because of this, it can be hard to remember wholeness, the wholeness inherent in our human family, when we see so many examples of how we, as a species, are capable of hurting one another.
I was very moved by the quotation from Howard Zinn and wanted to share it as part of this week’s practice. I think that it not only inspires but it also speaks to a powerful and ever-present truth: within wholeness there is more than whatever aspect of it is in the foreground at any given moment in time.
Here’s the quotation:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
“What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Because of the above quotation, for this week’s practice I’d like to invite you to pay attention to the reality of wholeness. Each time you hear bad news, please also take a moment to remind yourself, “And, that’s not the whole picture.” This doesn’t mean not to act in whatever ways you feel moved to do in order to correct, protest, or in some other way alleviate suffering or circumstances with which you disagree. It does mean to constantly remember that within a context of wholeness there is always more to the picture…there are alwaysboth foreground and background.
For every horrific action on the part of someone, there are inevitably compassionate and healing actions being taken by countless people all over the world at the same moment. While we never want to settle for mistreatment or violence in any form, we also don’t want to fall into collapse where we become helpless and unable to notice options and possible responses.
It’s for this reason that I constantly encourage people to search for good news on the Internet. There are a number of sources of good news that I regularly explore and I’ve shared some of them before. One is the New Story Hub, where you can find blogs, videos and other sources of good news: http://newstoryhub.com. Then, there’s Service Space, found at https://www.servicespace.org. They offer a number of good news options: DailyGood postings; KarmaTube videos, and much more. The Dodo offers good news stories about animals: https://www.thedodo.com. There are many more and most of us can find sources that meet our particular style and needs. I have many spiritual sources, such as Buddha at the Gas Pump interviews, www.batgap.com, Conscious TV, www.conscious.tv, Sounds True’s Insights at the Edge, which is a podcast, one among many that are available on-line.
As part of this week’s practice, notice what happens when you start out the day with good news and when you expand the resources for good news that you have available. I’ve written many times about the impact and importance of frequencies and you set the frequency for the day by how you spend your morning, or whenever your day begins. Explore more deeply the impact of where you focus your awareness and attention as you move into a new day. Also notice what happens when you remember all the good that so many people do every day, all around the world.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Instead, it’s an invitation to continue to explore the impact on your quality of life of where you focus your attention and awareness. While none of us can choose what comes our way, the choice we do have is where we place our attention, what we bring into the foreground of our awareness.
Also, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion, keeping in mind that curiosity opens us to experience, whereas fear and anxiety constrict our relationship with our world. And, as always, please remember to pat on the head any judgments that may arise as you explore this practice, allowing them simply to move on through without your having to respond to them in any way.