Sunday, March 7, 2010

Guest author: Lynn Kirby

What is your idea of utopia? For me, it is a world in which  there is harmony and health for and amongst all people. People who care about each other, who work for the benefit of each other, who strive to make others happy while enjoying their own lives. People who have enough and know it and are willing to share it. 

I woke up this morning thinking that if our military were as partisan as our politics, we would be at civil war. I don't know what I was dreaming, because politics is not something I ever willingly think about. To me, our country seems sick. It is divided, peopled with many who are greedy and only care about themselves and their own power, their own opinions, and making themselves wealthier than they need to be, ignoring the price their personal wealth has on others. Why can't we listen to each other with open hearts? I think the answer for me is that I feel totally beaten up, battered, and assaulted by the hatred, power-mongering and greed of so much that is said. I feel like I am going along enjoying my life with an open heart, and I get kicked in the face by "friends" and the media that want to raise hatreds (or sometimes called "awareness"). After I have gotten over the shock, it takes some time for my heart to heal, but in the meantime I feel angry at my attacker. I really don't understand why hatred and revenge are so attractive to people. Can we put aside our differences and work toward a harmonious future together instead of merely trying to win, prove ourselves right, or gain individual power?

Buddhist wisdom includes the notion that what we nurture in ourselves is what will grow. They say that each of us has seeds of every nature of emotion and character within us, both good and bad. If we nurture the seeds of compassion and loving kindness, we will have a far happier life and world than if we nurture the seeds of distrust, suspicion and looking out only for our own self-centered desires.

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, "Don't believe everything you think."  When I meditate, I see that my mind continues to think. It thinks about things I never asked it to think about, and sometimes about things I've asked it not to. Thoughts continually arise, unbidden. Some are true, while many are just plain random. Do I really want to believe them, just because they happened to appear in my mind? And do they bear continuing if, upon honest examination, they don't fit with Good? There are things I believe in, but they have to do with loving others, kindness, generosity, nurturing others' spirits, and with caring for the Earth, our only home.

About 15 years ago, when my daughter was very, very ill and her life was in a serious downward spiral, I was sick with worry, anger, and fear. One day I had a vision, a conversation with God. In it, God took away my fear and anger and gave me trust and peace and told me to live my life using those gifts. He also promised to give me help in remembering to live in trust and peace, and I do  get a wide variety of reminders and examples, frequently. I still have a long way to go to be able to live that way all the time, but it has been wonderful when I do remember that God is there, God cares about us and will give us what we need, even if what we need is not what we think we need.  At those times, I can give my fears over to God and act in ways that are guided by the inspiration that comes through the many gifts of love and beauty I receive daily and by the inner voice that questions whether what I am doing leads to love. I can go from hour to hour, day to day, in peace. 

In my opinion, distributing combative diatribes of hatred and fear is not a good way to get our country back to health. Is it even possible to take someone seriously who can point out everyone else's faults and mistakes without finding and demonstrating a better course of action? Instead of criticizing each other, making a case to show that everything another says should be suspected for an underlying sinister cause, could we just hear each other in trust and love? After all, God is within all of us. Can we work together to find beautiful, satisfying solutions to the problems we have instead of continuing to point fingers and say it's the other side's fault? Can we try?

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