Radiant Warriors

November 16, 2016


My heart has broken, again and again, for a week. I've gone from angry to hopeless, from sad to nearly unable to leave my bed. Yesterday, I came back into my body again. In this time of uncertainty, division, and pain, I reminded myself to turn to my elders, to voices that can help make sense of a universe I have barely begun to understand myself. 

Here are the voices tending to my heart today:
1. Vincent Harding on On Being - Is America Possible?
2. Joanna Macy's "marching orders" and the Shambhala Warrior
3. Brené Brown
4. Neil Gaiman - Instructions
5. Clarissa Pinkola Estes - no matter your religious/spiritual beliefs, there is something powerful to consider here.
6. Naomi Shihab Nye - Kindness - please listen and then repeat as many times as needed.
7. Wendell Berry - Vision
8. "We believe delight resists tyranny." - Cassandra Voss Center Mission Statement

And what of my inner voice? It is telling me this: I believe that we have stopped listening. 

What if we stepped away from the internet echo chambers and tried harder to engage with other people? Can we read more books? It will help us live longer and improve our empathy. Can we listen more and talk less? Can we volunteer somewhere, talk to strangers, pick up trash, meditate? What if we engaged in more self-love and self-care before heading out into the world each day? Can we find time to love ourselves? How do we harness the heat of compassion and the coolness of insight and become warriors for this precious world?

Joanna Macy tells us not to fear the suffering of our world. This lesson is hard for me to realize. But I know that giving up fear does not mean giving up the fight for justice for our planet and its living beings, only that we begin to fight from a place of compassion and insight, rather than fear. How can we give up fear? I am asking you, since I have not yet given up fear. I think it has a great deal to do with what Ms. Brown writes in her books and research on vulnerability and whole-hearted living.

I am a white, university-educated, cisgendered, married woman living a comfortable life abroad. The recent political events and the social atmosphere in my home country (the USA) have gathered a well of pain and grief within me, but they do not pose an immediate threat to me. They do, however, threaten the immediate safety and wellbeing of many. They pose long-term dangers to our planet, which desperately needs leadership concerned with mitigating and reversing the effects of global climate change. I've cried and cried and I've posted and linked, and today I wonder: what next? How can I use my privilege to help? What do I need to learn? In what ways can I train to be the kind of warrior Ms. Macy describes in that wonderful video above? 

Can I increase my compassion and understanding of the world? Yes. Can I donate to organizations fighting for justice? Yes! Can I read more - not just internet articles, I mean literature, poetry, nonfiction books, the latest amazing scientific news - and look deeper into the interconnectedness of the phenomena of our world? Yes, especially if I vow to spend less time on social media. I too believe that delight resists tyranny. Can I summon more delight into my life? Yes, of course, always. Let us not forget to play and experience joy, even when there is so much work to do. bell hooks has described the many forms that violence can take, including violence toward ourselves, such as working too much and neglecting our own physical and spiritual needs. Can we cease being violent toward ourselves so that we may cultivate an inner peace that shines through to others? Yes, yes, yes! We can! We can take time to eat as well as our budget affords, to cook food for ourselves rather than eating junk. We can turn off the social media and read a book, write in a journal, do yoga. We can call a friend instead of watching Netflix or TV. Of course this list targets those with a degree of privilege; if you have the time and ability to read this post, then I believe you have the time and ability to care for yourself a little bit more.

Compassion and insight. Peace. Joy and connection in defiance of violence and tyranny. These are the things I wish to foster. I absolutely will not stop speaking out on behalf of justice. I will do my best to boycott companies that support unjust leaders. I will sign petitions and I will try to find time to write to elected officials. I will protest. I will challenge my loved ones to open their hearts, just as I challenge myself to open mine. I vow to be radiant in what I know to be rightI even vow to forgive myself when I fall short of these expectations. From this day forward, I will do my best to stand up and show my soul. Here is my soul, on this day, doing the best it can.

Feel free to share resources, words of hope, and suggestions for moving forward for America and for the world. 

"It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."  -Wendell Berry

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6 comments

  1. Absolutely marvelous, m'lady. Not only is this post full of tremendous advice from elders and sages, and a wealth of shrew reading for the near future, but it's insightful in and of itself. It's incredibly easy to focus on the work that needs to be done and take far too much of the burden onto our own shoulders without thinking of the self violence we're partaking in. Thank you for the reminder to stay sane and do more. I'll be following your lead.

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    1. I'm so happy to hear that! We have to keep each other on track spiritually. For me personally, I'm getting nowhere without compassion in my heart. First thing is filling my heart back up with love and acceptance. I'm so glad to have a partner who is committed to that as well. :) I love you!

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  2. this part of your post really speaks to me:

    "Can we cease being violent toward ourselves so that we may cultivate an inner peace that shines through to others? Yes, yes, yes! We can! We can take time to eat as well as our budget affords, to cook food for ourselves rather than eating junk. We can turn off the social media and read a book, write in a journal, do yoga. We can call a friend instead of watching Netflix or TV. Of course this list targets those with a degree of privilege; if you have the time and ability to read this post, then I believe you have the time and ability to care for yourself a little bit more."

    if you are not caring for yourself, you cannot put your best into the world. this is something i've been struggling with, and i love your acknowledgement of it here.

    your entire post is inspiring :) keep fighting and showing your soul, radiant warrior!

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    1. Thank you so much, Katie. You inspire me so much, too. Lately, I've been really struggling to maintain my positivity and live according to my values. There are so many negative things happening in the world and I realized yesterday and today that I had really lost myself in the struggles. And it's totally the case that we will not serve anyone if we aren't taking care of ourselves. I want to work on allowing myself to enjoy my life and not feeling guilty about it. It's been a constant, constant struggle for me all of my life! Thank you for your comment and letting me know that my thoughts did not fall onto deaf ears!

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  3. Hello Friend, I found your post today, just one day before the 3rd anniversary of my father's passing. It makes me glad to know that my dad's voice has been "tending to your heart." You might be interested to know about the organization that my parents founded -- the Veterans of Hope Project -- www.veteransofhope.org

    We try to keep strong the spirit of encouragement that Vincent and Rosemarie cultivated in their peace and justice work and in their teaching. Wishing you a good day.

    R. Harding

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