Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts for MLK Day

I’m writing this on the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. for his leadership. He is the icon which represents the dreams and the hard work of thousands of people working for racial justice in our nation. He stands in a long tradition of people who came before and those who followed – a few of them well known and most of them nameless. Their witness to us is that dreams and the resulting actions can change the world.

Folks who worked (and continue to work) for civil rights in the United States and around the world aren’t hoping for a world of no differences. They are working for a world in which differences are seen as enriching rather than divisive. Human beings are sometimes quick to reject those with another color skin, different ethnicity, varying politics or religion. We have been mystified when people from far nations fight wars over differences we can’t recognize – Tutsi vs. Hutu. Instead we can all learn to embrace our differences as a way to make life richer and fuller. We learn important insights from people who practice other religions. People from other political parties keep debate honest as we work together to address important issues. Even as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., our congress is engaged in partisan politics in which winning for the party is more important than caring for the people of this nation.

It’s time to reclaim the dream of unity in the midst of diversity. It’s time to reach out to those who differ with us and make the opening which leads to greater understanding. It’s time to honor a great man and a great movement by continuing the work and holding fast to the dream until it is fully realized. It’s time for us to take our place among those who work for unity and recognize our human brothers and sisters.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Don't feed the pain

There are lots of hurts, big and small, which come into our lives. We treat them gently for a while, they heal, and may or may not leave scars. Pain is a warning that we need to deal with something. It's not meant to be a permanent condition. But emotional pain is a hungry animal, and if we feed it, it will stick around and consume us. We feed pain by focusing on it, repeating the story of our hurt, asking others to feed it sympathy. Pain feeds on anger and insult and retribution. If we let it, it will destroy us. So how do we move beyond pain? 1) Feel it fully and acknowledge it's there; 2) Tell it that even though it may be fully justified, it's not going to become the new focus of your life; 3) Starve it to death - by refocusing our thoughts when we want to dwell there. Stop telling the story over and over. Stop rehearsing the pain in your thoughts. When it appears, think of flowers or a perfect golf stroke. Give pain the attention it deserves and then no more. Move on to the joy that fills your life when you push pain over and give joy room to thrive.