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In your memory we will not rest.

June 21, 2016

“The truth is our world is changing and not for the better.”                                                                               Patti Smith

It has been difficult to keep a clear head or heart when so much is wrong.

The massacre of the gay community in Orlando. The murder of a woman who was really good. The murder of 24 “mostly women” at a village funeral in Nigeria.

The facts of so many lives destroyed and then the despair: that we – humanity – collectively attempting to create a safe and prosperous world have created something much more brutal. The strange beauty of the world made less because such acts are possible.

What kind of people are we?

Three massacres in one week – particular people or groups of people chosen to die. Acts of terror that erupt from our society because of our context: our politics, our leaders, our culture, our direction of travel.

When Kim Leadbetter asks us to be part of her sister’s legacy she’s inviting us to be better than we have been:

“They have been vocal and passionate and have spoken from the heart with genuine emotion and no hidden agendas. We have to continue this strength and solidarity in the days, months and years to come. As part of Jo’s legacy.”                                                                                                                                   Kim Leadbetter, Jo Cox’s sister.

We have been told such a relentless story of competition that it is now radical, counter-cultural, anti-capitalist and extreme just to trust that putting each other first is the only practical way to resolve our anxieties. Like if we see, accept and love the humanity in ourselves and everyone then someone somewhere is pulling the wool over our eyes.

The opposite is true. We are exhausted by a system that tells us our human value is best achieved by keeping our heads down. We lose connection – the basis of our humanity – in the obsessive individualism that engulfs our planet: the dread that my future is endangered by the flourishing of yours. When we stay distracted, when we don’t act, when we keep silent, we give permission to those who are most capable of extreme destructiveness. And when we give permission to the darkness we lose our hearts.

Paying attention is serious and can be really sad, but if we avoid it now then we lose the only silver lining – the possibility of turning pain into experience and that experience into the foundation for a different way of doing life.

Attention is an act of connection – of relating to each other and of seeing the relationships between things. Every night I write a gratitude list of ten things that happened that day because it pulls this world and my humanity into focus. It allows me to build and perceive of myself as something that is not alone – that relates to others and the world – that is connected and plugged in.

It’s never been more important.

Stretch out to resist the temptation to stay safe. We are not safer curled up inside ourselves. Stretch out and allow ourselves to be defined by others. Stretch out and connect directly with the world.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 21, 2016 5:23 pm

    wrote this about attention, connection and responding to grief. it’s also why we must #VoteRemain pls #share #RT etc

    Your post on Twitter brought me here. No massacre is a reason for the United Kingdom to remain in the E.U. We, as part of the E.U. have allowed ourselves to be defined by others and the result is not a positive one. I and many others do not want the E.U. making the laws in which we live under. We do not want unrestricted immigration that makes our quality of life less in the respect of enormous pressure on health, education and housing. We do not want to contribute to the horrible monetary waste that takes place in Brussels. We do not want to be a part of a community that requires that we forget what is in our best interest and contribute to a better quality of life for others when our own is in decline. What was once touted as a trade agreement now regulates our lives in ways that had we a crystal ball when we joined the E.U., no one would have voted for. I admire your work on climate change. I may not always agree with all that you say but I would be hard pressed not to admire your passion. However, on this particular subject (leave/remain) I believe that you have overstepped the mark in bringing the murder of an MP into the equation and using the massacres that have happened in the last week to say that it is a reason to remain in the European union. We are in the European union right now and our being in it, did not stop nor deter what happened. Remaining in the EU affords us no greater protection against things, leaving does not increase the threat of those things happening again. The European Union has no bearing on gun law in the USA. I would love to go along with your open arms, open doors, love and kindness and taking chances stance however, our arms have been open, our doors have been more open and humanity love and kindness are not dependent on EU membership. The problems of our society will never be solved by forming quasi trading blocks that grow out of proportion to their original intention and remove the voice of countries as individual nations with a real responsibility to provide the best possible lives for its people. I came to the United Kingdom 20 years ago and had to prove I had a skill that this country could make use of to remain here. I have no problem advocating the same and shutting the door to free movement when we simply can no longer cope with that method of doing things. I want to live under laws made by Westminster and yes, I willingly sacrafice the few changes the EU has brought about in order to retain sovereignty. What needs to change is our devotion to gods instead of our devotion to compromise and living in peace.

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