"Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time." -Marian Wright Edelman
Back at home, back in the saddle of my daily coming-to-terms with a life that works is a relief beyond words. Over and over, I come back to the need to find a path to see the world as beautiful as it is, full of possibility and wonder. This is the only view to take in a world that often seems to be tipping off its axis. You don't have to look far to find a story that makes you question our collective future.
How to make sense of a country where the president calls for more education, yet across the nation, we close schools, fire teachers, and wonder where will the resources come from to rebuild an educational system that has been suffering from neglect for years. How to make sense of a country that spends half its wealth on international conflicts and concerns while it can't create work opportunities for millions of its own citizens. How to make sense of the desperate acts of personal violence that are the daily cries for help from people whose lives are so far out of control?
I struggle with the weight of things coming undone and the shifting balances of power that at once terrify and inspire at the same time. Unrest and revolt lives in all of us, and as I stand by and watch the continuous coverage of a young people determined to open their destiny, I hold my breath. Egypt's uprising was organized through the power of technology; even turning off the Internet cannot stall the fight against the domination they have known their whole lives. It is heroic stuff that makes us all remember what is most human in us.
I wonder often if this is how it felt in the years leading up to the fall of Rome. The citizens there must have been watching their infrastructure fail as we are, and there were no safety nets at all back then to catch the many whose livelihoods fell as the resources dried up in the name of empire building. Actually, all the great empires that have ever dominated in the world, all fell to the same hubris.
We don't really learn from our collective past well. It is only the historians who, looking back seem to be able to see what was coming next. Still, in spite of all the troubles that surround, people keep loving each other and helping each other. Brothers lift wounded brothers in their arms and carry them away from the violence. We all want to be of service. We want our lives to matter to other people and stand up and be counted on.
The gift in the crisis around us is that there are as many opportunities to help as there are problems to be solved. The key is to find the courage to rise up and act in any way that feels true to you. Work at a food bank or just drop off a can of food. Volunteer for kids or schools, or just help out a working mother one day. Don't look away from the people you hand money to on the street, accept their blessing of thanks and wish them well.
It is a mess out there, we have to start cleaning it up inside of us first. We have to learn to love ourselves enough to actually have enough to reach out and risk helping- anywhere, anyhow. Creating a positive life for yourself creates concentric circles of goodness that reaches people you don't even know about.
Sorry if I am sounding like I am on a soapbox, but someone has to stand up and say it. Be positive, make a difference; it will make you more positive.