“Investing Energy in Face-to-Face Solidarity” – December 3, 2016

ryusho2016-doors-and-windowsI hesitate to post this, so much has been said, written, and transmitted regarding events past and pending in the US especially after the election of our next president.  Noteworthy is virtually everyone has an opinion yet when tallied next to votes cast there is a surplus of opinions compared to total votes.  I did vote, I worked at the polls on election day.  

In my opinion what first needs to happen is to make voting a moral issue and a social obligation not simply a nice thing to do if you have time or are interested.  This is merely my observation but liberals don’t vote, they like to have good ideas, are generally in favor of the marginalized, and like ideas such as equality, and concern for nature and environment but don’t always follow through at the ballot.  I don’t really know this to be certain, but when opinion polls favor something and then election polls end up differently something is out of whack.  Liberals, again, this is simply my observation, are committed but not always passionate, they surely want something to happen but don’t have the fervor or passion often seen from the opposite side of politics or from more conservative causes.  But none of this is why I’m posting.

51itbnlkxwlI was doing some reading and research about mental health issues and noticed this book Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change by Andrew Solomon. 

Far and Away collects Andrew Solomon’s writings about places undergoing seismic shifts—political, cultural, and spiritual. Chronicling his stint on the barricades in Moscow in 1991, when he joined artists in resisting the coup whose failure ended the Soviet Union, his 2002 account of the rebirth of culture in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, his insightful appraisal of a Myanmar seeped in contradictions as it slowly, fitfully pushes toward freedom, and many other stories of profound upheaval, this book provides a unique window onto the very idea of social change. With his signature brilliance and compassion, Solomon demonstrates both how history is altered by individuals, and how personal identities are altered when governments alter.

A journalist and essayist of remarkable perception and prescience, Solomon captures the essence of these cultures. Ranging across seven continents and twenty-five years, Far and Away takes a magnificent journey into the heart of extraordinarily diverse experiences, yet Solomon finds a common humanity wherever he travels. Illuminating the development of his own genius, his stories are always intimate and often both funny and deeply moving.

I have purchased the book and have it on my Kindle to read on my flight home from my visit with my brother.

I’m also interested in examples of the past and the influences artists have had on change and managing changes.  How might I employ my abilities, my words, my images, my presence in strategic ways to influence change in resistance to a future which seems to look backwards on many issues important to me.

The future which I had not wished for is the future I will need to live and what is left to me is how I will contribute to changes and influences which yield the future I wish to see.  I am hopeful that I can as Parker Palmer is trying to do, let go of and “withdrawing energy from the ranting and raving and investing energy in face-t0-face solidarity with:

  • Children who are being bullied at school because of their race, ethnicity, and/or religion.
  • Immigrants who came here seeking a new life and now are feeling as unsafe as they did back home because of their religion or national origins.
  • Undocumented workers who have long been exploited with sub-poverty wages and are now fearful about their families being split up.
  • African Americans who are now hearing emboldened white supremacists become more vocal about their vile views
  • LGBTQ folks who are worried about losing some of their hard-won civil and human rights.
  • Women who’ve suffered from sexual harassment and/or assault whose wounds have been reopened and now fear that misogyny has received official approval.”
    On Being : Parker Palmer, Start Close In 
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About Ryusho 龍昇

Nichiren Shu Buddhist priest. My home temple is Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC. You may visit the temple’s web page by going to http://www.myoshoji.org. I am also training at Carolinas Medical Center as a Chaplain intern. It is my hope that I eventually become a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently I am also taking healing touch classes leading to become a certified Healing Touch Practitioner. I do volunteer work with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (you may learn more about them by following the link) caring for individuals who are HIV+ or who have AIDS/SIDA.