How then can we Hope?
Beauty surrounds us all the time.
The tight bud unfurls into a beautiful red rose. Neighbors prepare for their upcoming wedding. My grandson Daniel rolls over. Garbage is picked up on time, and water flows freely through the faucets. I take a nap after lunch. Delicate spider webs span from tree to bush along the path. No matter what happens in our lives or the world around us, precious moments are happening at the same time.
Joy is not being in conflict with yourself.1
Inside our heads and within our nation, we often swim in conflict. For example, I value diverse perspectives and yet I cling tenaciously to my own. I am skilled at organizing, and yet I continuously second guess my decisions. I embrace change and movement, and yet stepping into the unknown stirs my fear and compels me to retreat. I am tossed back and forth by the waves of my own truth and the undertow of my habitual, compulsive thoughts.
Likewise, our nation’s behavior is too often profoundly out of alignment with its founding principles and with my own personal values. Children’s natural curiosity is submerged when standardized testing is prioritized. Our pride in being a nation of freedom and justice for all crashes against US corporations doing business overseas by polluting the land and ignoring basic safety standards for underpaid workers. Our legal system’s supposed allegiance to impartial justice collides with the reality that Black, Brown and poor men and women are incarcerated for the same crimes as freed whites. And yet, far too often, we don’t notice.
What is required for us not to see this raging conflict between values and national actions? Intelligent, inquisitive people must dull their observation and believe multiple fabricated stories to calm the waters of inner conflict.
The consequences of dissonance between values and behavior are extreme and long lasting. Knowing this tendency, scripture speaks about singleness of heart while Be Present points to the importance of living “outside the distress of oppression.” Calming the waters of conflict within ourselves and as a nation, we can begin to align our values and actions. As inner conflict washes away, joy emerges – in playful as well as challenging times.
The memory that transformation has happened once can stay with you forever.
You know something different is possible.
It is easy to feel that whatever is happening at the moment will last forever. Don’t forget what you’ve already experienced: those times when civility and respect brought light to dark and difficult situations. That which we seek has happened before. Hold it dear. Find stories of others who have stayed in their own knowing in challenging situations.
Keep your sight on your vision. Walk the path you are called to walk.
Distressing news is seductive. We need to be aware of what is going on around us, but slipping into the abyss of the-latest-crisis makes it extremely difficult to continue to live in and help create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.2