Monday, 28 August 2017 18:34

Accept, But Work

Written by John Records
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Affiliate Nancy MacFarland brought John Records to the editors’ attention by reposting his thoughts (shared below) on her Facebook page. When we inquired, she told us, “John Records is an inspiring man who had lived in our community (Petaluma, CA) for many years. He created a homeless shelter that comprehensively met the needs of homeless people in a holistic way which became a model for other shelter programs. He is a spiritually centered person who has deeply touched the lives of all those around him.”

I’ve given a lot of thought to the message that follows, knowing it may offend some. It’s not meant to be political. I ask those who take offense to look into my heart and recall what I stand for.

At age 66, I’ve been involved in many social changes and movements: opposing the Vietnam war, marching against nuclear arms, teaching meditation to people with HIV/AIDS when it was untreatable, working against the tobacco industry’s campaigns to hook children, working for homeless folks, and now supporting dying people and those who care for them. I’ve been stretched to what I thought was my limit and beyond many times.

Our present times are as threatening as any I’ve seen. In this light, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned over the decades:

  1. Don’t give in to despair, and don’t undermine the hope of others through your despairing conclusions. We don’t know enough to despair now because we don’t know the future. In the causes I mentioned above, things have often gotten better. There is much good ahead of us, some of which will be born and flourish because of what we now regard as evil. I like Raymond William’s advice, “To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”
  2. It’s better for our mental health and growth to work for what we love rather than against what we abhor. So find a way to base your life in love.
  3. Sometimes it is necessary to resist, but don’t let your life be defined and consumed by opposition. Don’t let your rage warp you.
  4. You’re not alone. If you feel lost or estranged, look around you for people and resources that you may not have noticed. Reach out for help. We’ll get through these times together.

James Baldwin’s words, shared by Elizabeth Linnea, strike me as apt. “It began to seem that one would have to hold in the mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is... in the light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace. But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but must fight them with all one’s strength. This fight begins, however, in the heart and it now had been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair.”

 

Read 321 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 August 2017 15:42
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