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How Can I Make a Difference in the World?

In the face of fear, hate, and anger… be love


I wrote the article that follows on 11/11/20, but I did not publish it.


Why?


I felt it wasn’t ready – I felt I wasn’t ready. Now, two months later, I see that this is the right time, that this is the moment in which I am called to do something big, something bigger than I believe myself capable of doing. But I am going to do it anyway because if I want others to rise beyond their comfort zones, I must do so myself.


I am afraid of what our country has just shown us. I am afraid of the magnitude of hate I saw on January 6th, of what it represents, of the next thing it will manifest. It’s not as if this hate is new, but in recent years it has been stoked and glorified, justified, and honored. This hate is born of fear – fear of “otherness,” of the unknown, of the misunderstood, and the imagined consequences of NOT hating and NOT acting on that hate.


But nothing good comes of hate, and if humanity is to survive, the fear driving the hate must be replaced with compassion for those we do not know or understand. The great leaders of our time Gandhi, King, the Dalai Lama, Mandela, Mother Teresa showed love in the face of adversity, honor amid pain, integrity, as they withstood the worst hate could bestow upon them. We must find a way to channel this love even as part of us may prefer to rage in anger against the hate and those who champion it.


We must be bigger than the fear and the hate, the anger, and the chaos. We must BE LOVE.


I wasn’t ready to celebrate the new year on January 1st, but I am ready to celebrate it tomorrow, January 11th, 2021. I cannot say why, but I have always felt connected to occurrences of 1’s and 11’s – tomorrow is both. Tomorrow at 1:11 pm CST, I will take 1 minute and 11 seconds to send love out to our world. I will stop. I will close my eyes and pay attention to my breath, in and out, in and out. And I will focus all my attention on feeling love in my heart for the rest of humanity – no matter their color or beliefs, religion or gender, practices or location, or any category or divider – I will simply love.


January 11th is also special to me because it is the birthday of my great aunt Syd, who passed many years ago. She lived with my family when I was growing up, and she was the most loving, kind, and generous person I have ever know. Something about her was wise and yet innocent, pure and simple and good. Tomorrow I will call to my mind and my heart memories of her capacity to love to stimulate my own.


I will also summon compassion for others into my heart by first welcoming my own suffering. Human suffering is universal – there is not a person alive or dead who has not suffered, and I know I can feel love for anyone and everyone who has suffered because I know that pain. I will call forward the feelings of tenderness, love, and compassion I have known in my life for the suffering of myself and others, and I will project it outward.


Yesterday I read a line in a book by Thich Nhat Hahn ( How to Relax) and it led to this article and this desire to project love… “The ground for action is to be, and the quality of being determines the quality of doing.” This same book talks about how any mindfulness or meditation is like a gift of peace to the world, but also how many people practicing at the same time amplifies that gift.


The incremental effect of community practice reminded me of the closing ritual I participated in at the end of a Michael Meade Mosaic Voices retreat. Over a hundred of us stood with outstretched arms and sent love to people who needed care, protection, and relief from suffering. Afterward, I was euphoric for hours, the headiness of our collective effort resounding in my head and my heart. I knew we made a difference then; I know we can make a difference now.


Wherever you may be on January 11th at 1:11 pm CST, I invite you to join me for 1 minute and 11 seconds of love and compassion. I will engage in this offering of love each day this week, Monday through Sunday at 1:11 pm. If you would like to join me virtually, you can register to do this on the EVENTS page.


If you would rather observe your moments of love at 1:11 pm in your timezone, that’s great too, because all love is good love and there will be others practicing with you in your part of the world. There are always people practicing their moments alongside us, we just don’t know it, but they are there, of that I am certain.

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