|GA National Fair 2006 by peachyqueen|
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I don't know about you, but every single day I get dozens of appeals for money, to sign petitions, to call my representatives and senators, to write to this company or that, and always again for more money. Take a look at the first six emails in my inbox this morning.
- Greenpeace - "Dear Kathryn, Kill more mother whales? That’s what the Japanese government wants to do." This opening gambit is followed by lurid pictures and graphic details that break my heart.
- People for the American Way - Michael Keegan wants me to take a survey on the 2012 presidential election. It's important because "if we are not fully engaged this year, we could actually end up with a far-right Tea Party extremist President [sic] who supports" almost everything that puts fear in my heart and curdles my blood.
- Alliance for a Healthier Generation - I don't know who these people are or how I got on their list. They want me to help reduce the rate of childhood obesity--a noble cause. In addition to asking for donations, they want me to buy their branded products and gift them to my friends and family this season.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) - It's their year-end rapid-response fundraiser and they need money right this minute because "people count on you and the ACLU. And lately they've really needed us. That's because there's been an all-out assault on civil liberties — in Congress, and in statehouses and courtrooms all across the country." How well I know.
- Grameen Foundation - "This holiday season, Grameen Foundation is making it easy to honor the special people in your life and help us empower the world's poorest at the same time." They want money too.
- Earthjustice - Their president is giving me a chance to help them help the president make history: "President Obama is stuffing America's stocking on Friday with the first-ever limits on deadly toxics [sic] from coal-fired power plants. This can be a truly historic moment for Obama—if he goes far enough." They need money to up the pressure.
Grabbing the dragon's tail
This morning, before sitting down to the inevitable tales of atrocities, miscarriages of justice and desperate, shameless, sometimes heartbreaking appeals for money, I opened again the book that gave me such courage this fall: William Powers' Twelve by Twelve.
On this page, he tells of his first conversation with Jackie, the owner of the tiny cabin in which unexpectedly and very soon he will live for forty days.
Powers is just back from ten years working overseas to mitigate poverty and save the rainforest. His dad is in the hospital, recovering from a life-threatening illness. Deep in culture shock upon his return to the US, he is at odds with his work. Futility and despair lurk between the lines.
Jackie, a medical doctor, could have chosen a lucrative practice and retired anywhere. Instead, she served her community's poorest. After her children went to college, she asked for and received a reduction in salary. She lives on $11,000 a year, below the tax threshold.
Jackie explains her choice to "live like a Bangladeshi," in a tiny cabin without electricity or plumbing and grow her own food. She is "part of a more durable future," her life "tied into the growing slow food, environmental, and antiwar movements." Inexplicably, she tells Powers, "'It all centers around a question ... Where do you grab the dragon's tail?'"
The question puzzles me. Apparently Powers is as puzzled as I. They talk more, then he asks her, "'Where do you grab the dragon's tail?'"
"'Where the suffering grabs you the most.'"
So I do. Each day, I respond to those appeals I can and delete the rest. Not without a sigh, not without regret, but delete them I do.
Each day I try to become a little better informed, a little more aware of what is wrong in the world, and what is right! (That last does not fill up my inbox.)
And each day, [insert rude expletive here], I do what tiny bit I can to build that more durable world. Whether it is buying organic cotton and fair trade products, standing for peace, going 'pooless, kicking my paper towel habit, or taking a walk to strengthen my aging bones, I do what I can.
Hanging on as if our lives depended on it
That dragon's tail whips about ferociously. Day after day, I grab it and hang on for dear life, crawl up the dragon's back and whisper in its ear:
I know you have a human heart. I know you are capable of compassion and love. You, too, would benefit from a better world, a more durable world. Heck, imagine the joy if you used your might and power to build a truly good world, one more like the Village of Ordinary.Most of you who read me have blogs that I read as well. What gives me strength to hang on is your persistence in grabbing your dragons' tails. Thank you for continuing to write your truth, whatever it may be.
Your voices matter. They give me courage. Sometimes you make me laugh. Sometimes you make me cry. Thank you for writing. Thank you for your persistence. Thank you for hanging on.
Disclosure: Should you click on the Amazon link in this post and make a purchase, it is possible I might make a few pennies on the sale. Wouldn't that be a thrill.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.