In your memory we will not rest.
“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.