From Parker Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old. 2018, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.:
“…seeing otherness in everyone except myself and ‘my people’ is the road to a sense of superiority and even uglier destinations” (p.156).
“…violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering” (p.160).
“This being human is a guest house.” Rumi (as quoted in Palmer’s book, p.148).
As long as there is other, there will always be us or them. And as long as we are so divided by a comparison nested in “better or worse,” we cannot be truly We.
It is not that comparisons are inherently evil, but when there is “other” whom we do not bother to know, it is easier to dehumanize, it is easier to dismiss and disregard.
It is a Sisyphean task to keep that distance, that disregard. We are all equal and we are not. We are all different and we are not. We are all alone and we are not. The efforts to compare in terms of better or worse, less or more, etc. continues, like Sisyphus’ rock, to roll back down the hill. The paradox is and that sometimes life can be one side or the other of a paradox does not render the paradox mute. So we suffer and don’t know what to do and violence of some form or another and at one point or the other ensues.
It is a steep wisdom curve this paradoxical existence. And we are merely guests, stewards of our visit and our behaviors—stewards of the spirit loaned to us? It seems to me we are charged with being polishers of this gift of spirit and awareness. Though I know this, I still bumble through and there is still danger I will drop the gift yet again and ding it once more. But we can help each other polish the stewardship—we are a sixth sense for each of us. And all the world and all beings in or on it will live a bit easier when we let the rock and hill be and when we build our sandcastles of art and music and humor and religion and politics and communities and nation-states, we know we have to let it go at some point. And yet nothing is lost and much is gained.
No more of this simply taking a break from Sisyphean tasks, let’s leave useless tasks behind and move on. Let’s not make it a new Holiday Season, but a new way of life. After all, there’s more than one kind of climate crisis and addressing those are not useless tasks.