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Happy Holidays! I love Christmas with the breathless passion of a toddler. I wrap presents for weeks and look forward to the all-day-morning of the 25th where PJ’s are the uniform, and by noon I have a sugar hangover. But, my friends, so much bad stuff has been happening around our country and our planet that I find it hard to go about my regular life, much less prepare for the Holidays.
I mean, how do I prep for my daughter’s slumber party when 300 schoolgirls have been abducted from their families?
How do I wander the aisles at Target when there are massive garbage dumps in each of the world’s oceans, some twice the size of Texas!?
How do I worry about how moist my Thanksgiving turkey is when climate change will cross the tipping point by 2020 producing permanent catastrophic consequences? And when 16 million children in our country go to bed hungry?
I could go on and on, but you get it.
Simultaneously, comes the disemboweling feeling of, “it’s pointless, nothing I can do will help.” Yet not to do something feels ostrich-like and stupid. It seems my choices are either selfless dedication or hopeless hibernation.
So I asked my sisters and friends how they approach this dilemma and they pointed me in the direction of a statesman, an activist, a philosopher and a poet.
Vaclav Havel when asked if there is hope for the world said:
“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world…. it’s not essentially. …(an) estimate of the situation….Hope, in this deep and powerful sense is not …. (a) willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. (Emphasis mine)
Martin Luther King advised:
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
That eloquently speaks to the larger dilemma of despair, but what of the insignificant things of my life placed against the backdrop of pain and violence that’s in the world?
Eckhart Tolle writes:
“The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody’s life really consists of small things. The present moment is always small in the sense that it is always simple, but concealed within it lies the greatest power….Only when you align yourself to the present moment do you have access to that power. Or it may be more true to say that it then has access to you and THROUGH YOU TO THIS WORLD.” (Emphasis mine)
Mary Oliver says:
“Mostly: I believe in a lot of things….the inside of a wrist. Mostly: I believe in little things. This place. You.”
So, I guess the message is clear. Yes, have hope, the hope that resides beyond the assessment of our circumstances. And, yes, worry about the turkey, plan the slumber party, and even enjoy your sugar hangover.
When the problems seem insurmountable, I would love to know how each of you stay centered, hopeful and moving forward.
P.S. Next week, in light of HOPE moving into ACTION (becoming part of the solution), I am asking people what their favorite charities are.
Let’s rejoice in the season of giving.