We are the Mirror as well as the face in it
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi
We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours.
Recently, I looked at a bigger picture of US gun violence. That more Americans have died from gun violence over the past 50 years than in all the wars America has been involved in. Add to that fact-checked figure the fact that suicides by guns are far greater than homicides, and it becomes clear we are a greater threat to ourselves than from any force outside ourselves. (Click here for context)
As someone who meditates regularly, I support people taking a moment to “sit in” anywhere for any reason. This moment has less to do with political parties for me than it does for drawing a circle for public safety, for breaking out of the mesmerizing idea that we are powerless in the face of such a violence-permeated society, for peace. This is the most moving scene I have witnessed from Congress in my lifetime. (Fortunately my life is full enough I do not that spend hours in front of C-SPAN, so I may have missed something).
Representative John Lewis’s Speech:
This spurred me to see how decision makers local to me are framing the discussion. I learned that despite a many-year Congressional ban on funding for gun violence research as a public health issue, Seattle took on its own initiative without federal funding and in 2013 became the first city in the nation to conduct basic gun research. The results not surprisingly:
This entire month I have been working increasingly with Tonglen practice for personal issues that feel unsolvable and experiencing some sense of self-compassion growing from it. Considering the cultural view of many Buddhist practitioners that equal or greater compassion is necessary for the aggressor/abuser as it is for the victim, it seems interesting in the case of the United States how we might work with this for ourselves. What to do when it seems we are a nation of self-abusers, self-aggressors?
I am reminded we need be wary of taking positions of belief so fixed that we become the person holding up a peace sign hitting someone over the head to defend our views. In other words, we must constantly zoom out to consider context while taking moments to understand our own pain so that we can understand others.
Here is a brief description of a way to work with suffering in this world, that anyone can do at any time regardless of what belief system. If starting with the big picture feels too big, you can start with yourself.
And because time in Nature is my greatest source of healing, I am sharing this interesting study out of University of California on the topic of aiding communities directly impacted by violence (veterans and inner city youth) via nature connection.