After the attacks in Lebanon and Paris, all the other violence the world experienced in the last week, and all the various reactions and counter reactions, amongst all that, I did not despair.
Because I saw people everywhere responding to the horror in their own noble way. I saw people like you reading articles to better understand like this or this or this. I saw you doing tonglen by candlelight. Praying with your sisters and brothers in churches and mosques. Doing ceremony for the fallen by the side of a deep, swift river. Making soup for a sick neighbor. Sending a hand-written note to a scared friend.
I saw you standing up. Looking around with eyes wide open. Daring to see. Daring; not hiding with the curtains drawn, not shuttering your hearts (or at least not for long).
I believe you staying awake makes a true difference. I believe that the interconnectedness you open yourself to every day is fueling real change. You and I can’t get away from what is happening halfway around the world. Sure, we can shut everything down for days or weeks, we can go offline and never watch TV again, but as soon as you or I engage with another human being again, there is the world.
You can’t shut it out. You can only compassionately, wisely engage.
You can answer to the call to be a citizen of the world.
You can refuse this call – there are plenty of days I want to – but the cost of refusing is high. It means closing your heart to the wounded parts of humanity and thus the wounded parts of yourself – and so much breaks down when we do this. It means buying a story of separation. It means perhaps believing you have no voice and no ability to shape the world into a more fair and bright place, that your efforts don’t matter.
I don’t believe that. I will never believe that.
I see you making a true effort, and yes, sometimes you want to do more or be more skillful – and some days you want to do nothing – and that’s great too – but none of this diminishes what you are doing now.
By staying grounded and aware in the midst of horror and loss, you make a difference.
By learning about world events and protesting where you feel called, you make a difference.
By loving your neighbor, you make a difference.
By knowing that fear can’t kill you but living in fear can, you make a big difference.
Here’s to being a citizen of the world. I’m so glad we are in this together.