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Painting: “Stained Glass Window,” by Odilon Redon

“We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.” — J. R. Tolkien


All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One. — Black Elk


The emergence and blossoming of understanding, love, and intelligence has nothing to do with any tradition, no matter how ancient or impressive-it has nothing to do with time. It happens on its own when a human being questions, wonders, inquires, listens, and looks without getting stuck in fear, pleasure, and pain. When self-concern is quiet, in abeyance, heaven and earth are open.
- Toni Packer


The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven’t the will to gladden someone’s heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone’s heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this. — Javad Nurbakhsh

Watching the political theatre as it plays out on our national stage, we can’t help but wonder at our fellow Americans. We try to imagine how they see the world, what their concerns are, how they can be so easily led by heartless criminals. We try to imagine their vision of things. How can exclusion and blatant disregard for the welfare of other human beings and the earth make any sense to anybody?

It looks like a fever has seized almost half the voting populace.

How do we see our life? Are we just trying to dominate, punish others for their difference from us, protect our little turf? Are we so afraid of others of a different race or class that we would consign them to death? Is this who we are?

If so, I don’t see how we can have a future.

I’m dismayed to see how close this election has been. I didn’t realize how easily fooled a good forty percent of Americans are and how readily they would join a suicide cult.

It’s worrying, not just for loved ones but for the world itself. A thriving world cannot be built out of exclusive self interest and hate.

A sustainable world is the bare minimum we can hope for. Human intolerance and greed makes even that impossible.

If we’re going to proceed by heartless logic as if life is a zero sum game, we ourselves will lose everything worth having in life, starting with love and a peaceful heart. Nurturing and projecting our small vision into the world makes it more dangerous for everyone, ourselves included.

I think that those who can’t see the link between hate and self destruction are simply refusing to see it, but once you see it you can’t unsee it. Once you notice the shocking fact of your own smallness you suddenly have the possibility of an expanded life. You are presented with the opportunity of connection. A meaningful life is connected to other lives through caring and awareness of the reality that other lives are just as real as yours.

It may seem strange to put it like that, but it seems like too many of us experience life at a distance from everything, as if it’s a figment, an abstraction.

Living life without a caring, empathetic heart is not safe. It’s a dangerous way to live, in fact. It means you don’t really enter into a relationship with the world. It means you can be easily led, easily fooled, because you’re not in touch with yourself. You become a tool in someone else’s agenda.

It’s appalling to see people project the savior archetype on someone like Trump, because you couldn’t make a bigger misjudgment. He is one of those rare people who are incapable of caring about others. Whatever the hook is for all his followers is invisible to me.

You can only hope for an awakening. Assuming Biden will win this contest, what is to happen to all the human beings who would happily kill us all? What happens to their children? Don’t we have a responsibility to address the contagion of hate and ignorance in our society? Shouldn’t we look at the festering misery our culture creates?

Economic injustice is tied to rage and violence. Our system obviously encourages both. We are not the shining city on the hill that we are so convinced of. Real democracy will evolve out of compassion.

We will never be able to devise a system that can operate with justice but without love.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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