It is the strangest thing. We live in a time obsessed with power but yet so much seems so much out of control.
We cannot save ourselves from each other. We think tearing down is building up. Our leaders tell us the answer is in bigger and better destruction. Life is about who we defeat, how often we win and no one seems to fear what we have lost.
It seems we are trying to save the ship by sinking the boat faster.
People try to peddle identify. They seek more members to their group, their view, their side. They tell you the truth is simple. The people like us don’t have enough power. The people not like us have too much. We need a bigger tribe and we won’t have to listen to their stuff no more.
Too much of our political process seems a bad reality TV show. Candidates for the presidency of the United States are actually comparing wives. In the volume and bluster of their sales pitch I can not shake the feeling we are being sold a bridge in Brooklyn.
I like to think there was a time when the answer was in our common humanity, in the bonds that connect is, but even that is probably not true. Some people have never been afforded those bonds. I am not sure I see or believe how more injustice for you is more justice for me but perhaps that has always been the calculus of our lives. I don’t know.
For most of the people I know life is hard, injury and pain real, hope an everyday battle. A friend once told me he didn’t know about better days. He just wanted to find a way to make it through this day.
Many of the people I know don’t believe in answers any more. I don’t know about power. For me much of the content of my life seems so inevitable. I remember when after Linda and I had to separate and I went to apply for food stamps. They told me they had good news and bad news. I asked them the good news. “You qualify for $8 of food stamps. The bad news is that if you don’t qualify for at least $10 we don’t send you anything at all…..”
I am a political person. Advocacy is important to me. I hold to the faith ordinary people can make a difference. But often I despair and wonder. I will be honest I do. I look at something like the fight to make Insure Tennessee real and I just want to scream. But then I tell myself it not about battles but wars. And then I tell myself what is most important is not what I win or lose but in what I choose to fight for. It is about the kind of person I think is worth being and the kind of place I want to live in. And if I quit or if you quit of we quit there will only be bridges in Brooklyn to buy.
Power is not just a political question. It is that but it is more. It is about my ability, regardless of the content of my life, to choose how I will live, what I will cherish and value, the kind of person I want to be. In a world obsessed with getting it is about what I want to give.
There is a power of sorts in what we come to believe. Some things open doors. Some things close them. Some things help us to see. Some things help us choose to never see.
Here are some things I have come to believe. They have helped to give me power and choice about the way I live.
I matter. No matter how crappy the circumstances, how effective or ineffective I am, how big a mess I make or how much of a mess I clean up I matter and so do you.
If I matter then the things that are important to me matter….the things I feel, what I think, who and what I care about, my dreams, my visions, the things I am good about and the things I wish I did better…..all these things matter.
Life is about learning. My failures as well as my successes all give me the chance to get better at life.It is ok not to always do so good. You can only do the best you can do. To believe otherwise or to have others tell you otherwise is foolishness.
Small steps are steps. The direction I am going defines where I am most likely to go.
Kindness is the most powerful thing. To care without guarantee or promise of what is to happen next is the ultimate courage.
Prevent problems, cope with problems, build capacity and strength. All of these things are utterly essential but above all things do one thing….survive
Treasure justice. It is not always easy or sometimes doesn’t even seem possible but we are hurt by the injury to others.As much as you want a fair chance….be a fair chance for others.
Never underestimate your courage. It is not about medals and acclaim. You are the medal.
Ordinary people matter because in the end there are no ordinary people.
Life is about invitations. Never miss an invitation to smile. We never miss an invitation to be angry or be hurt. Smiling is just harder work.
Living is about finding better life. You are a story yet to be written. Never believe you are the conclusion to one already written.