Some days – or maybe most days – I feel like a visitor from another planet, distant and disconnected from those who seem to rule this one. The politics and behavior of this planet’s people confuse me and I long to speak out about the kind of world I know is possible for all of us, not just an elite few.
I come from a much more gentle place, where people understand that our actions as individuals resonate farther than our physical selves. What we do to one, we do to all. From how we talk to a child, to how we treat the planet, our actions have vast consequences that carry far from their origin. Hatred and violence are a sickness to be cured, not a means to an end. Love alone makes everything possible.
In my world it is understood that the choices I make are personal ones which reflect my beliefs and are based on my experiences, upbringing, and education. And that I am still learning. Likewise, I expect that other people make choices using the same criteria and I believe they are equally entitled to their beliefs. While I can learn from, accept, or disagree with someone, I may not force my beliefs on anyone or judge theirs in terms of “right” or wrong”. I understand that many things I may never understand came into play for them to arrive at their decisions.
Where I come from, no one person is better than the other, no one person more entitled or more deserving than any other. Individuals are fairly compensated for the gifts and work they share, because that is how we each want to be treated. A tinker is as respected for fixing things that are broken as are the doctors who fix broken bodies. Artists are honored for the beauty they create and teachers are revered for the powerful influence they have on our future. Each person produces because they want to feel valued and contribute to our forward momentum as a tribe. Knowing that even small things can matter greatly to others, we give freely. It is understood that some people can give more than others, and there will be times when we may take more than we give. And that is okay – when each of us understands our responsibility to each other things become easily balanced. Or maybe judging who deserves what is just no longer important.
My world isn’t perfect, and sometimes people need to be reminded of the fact that what they do has far-reaching consequences. We all make mistakes and forget our responsibility to ourselves and each other. But, because we understand we are not perfect, we forgive. We pay attention to how we have learned, we share our insights, and we listen to others who have walked similar and different paths. Respect and love is everything.
It is in the spirit of this world, real or imagined, that I write to share what I know and what I am learning. It is where I speak out about the things that run contrary to these deeply held beliefs. It is also where I show my vulnerabilities in hopes of finding resonance and the spirit of camaraderie with whoever reads these words. I write as much to learn about myself and the world as I do to “teach”. The things I write have been called “inspirational” and they stay inspirational even when the reader is challenged. That is the point. I understand we all come from different places and need to hear different things and that different language is sometimes needed to represent the many silenced voices. I write about cancer, survivorship and issues of body image but I also write about the natural world, what it is like to walk this earth as a woman and the challenges inherent in trying to evolve into the best person I can be. This blog is a reflection of my many faceted self.
This month there have been several instances where my deepest held beliefs about the rights and responsibilities we have to ourselves and each other have been profoundly challenged. From large issues like the recent supreme court ruling that gave employers the right to choose healthcare for women workers based on the employers religious beliefs to the small and personal, it has been a month of people trying to direct and judge the lives of others. Blatant and violent sexism in my workplace, reprimands from a family member about how I use my voice, sadness over how to support a child whose disability has limited his perceived options and coping with the abuses served by two young men who didn’t consider their actions have occupied my days. I have lost heart again and again and started each day hoping it would be different.
It is part of my work in this world, on this planet, to bring it more in line with the world of possibility that I know. The rampant entitlement that allows an individual to believe they can choose the path others must walk is astounding. The general lack of respect for each other is boggling and the inability to see worth in every person is profoundly limiting. How easily we could slip into anger filled smallness, filling our world with control through threat and violence is terrifying.
How would this world be different if the life and choices of each person were equally respected? If gender or sexuality or wealth or ability/disability were not guiding forces in how we determine personal value? If we understood that our actions and words resonate in ways we can never guess?
What if we treated each person as we would want to be treated and the planet as if we had to live on it forever?
What would happen if we all moved through life operating from a core of love instead of fear?
I get tired trying to make my way here – my body hurts, my mind is muddled, my spirit is heavy. My doctor and friends tell me I need to relax, but this is not a place I can do that. I continue to plow onward, speaking out and dreaming towards a future I may never see, but which I wish for each future version of you to know. That is what love does. And love is all there is.