Omicron requires individuals to think and act for the collective good—which is to say, it poses a heightened version of the same challenge that the U.S. has failed for two straight years…Rather than trying to beat the coronavirus one booster at a time, the country needs to do what it has always needed to do—build systems and enact policies that protect the health of entire communities, especially the most vulnerable ones. Individualism couldn’t beat Delta, it won’t beat Omicron, and it won’t beat the rest of the Greek alphabet to come. Self-interest is self-defeating, and as long as its hosts ignore that lesson, the virus will keep teaching it.Ed Yong, America Is Not Ready for Omicron
A kind person whose social justice vocabulary is outdated or inadequate for the concepts they’re trying to communicate is a better person than anyone who’d rip them down as a bigot for not keeping up with the euphemism treadmill. Morality is measured by how you treat people, not how well you’ve memorized a continuously evolving set of shibboleths.
“It was much better to imagine men in some smokey room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over brandy.
You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn’t then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told the children bed time stories, were capable of then going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people.
It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, then what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them.
No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.”Terry Pratchett, Jingo
Them or Us
A new solution to an old problem is never an easy task. The more times we’ve dealt with a problem in the same old way the harder it is to conceive a novel solution because our explanations of the problem have been molded set by past experience: by names.
Names and labels are dangerous things. Claude Monet and his Impressionist friends turned the art world upside down by their re-invention of painterly technique. They did so by breaking the rules and ignoring the labels and names of “art,” and in many ways, of life. Sometimes you just have to forget the names of things and look at the world through new eyes, devoid of expectations, willing to accept possibility, unhindered by convention.
We see the world differently today because of artists like Monet, who taught us how to “see” the same things we’ve been looking at for a long while, but to see them through eyes unhampered by the filters we used to apply. A water lily doesn’t have to look like a water lily looked 20 years ago. We can see new aspects of it. We can see it in different light. In fact, each day, each hour, the light changes so that what we “see” in that instant is different from what we will say later in the day, or on another sunnier or more overcast day.
The stories of Monet going out into the field to paint, carting along a dozen partially painted canvasses to that he could continue painting several different views of the same subject at different times of the day. Each canvas was different even though the scene was the “same.”
And by breaking with the convention of how to apply paint to the canvas we had the opportunity to “see” that scene or indeed any scene in a very different way.
How to do that in everyday life is horribly difficult and simultaneously astonishingly easy. But first we have to be willing to let go of pre-conceptions, past-ideas, habit, tradition, experience. We have to metaphorically forget the name of whatever problem lies in our way.
I don’t know about you but I find that the older I get the easier it is to rely upon experience. Often I simply don’t want to be bothered thinking up a new way of doing something when the old one works perfectly well. I have my exceptions, of course. Travel: I almost never return from a place the same way I went out. But that willingness to be challenged in every aspect of life is tiring; one has to actually think about what they are doing instead of letting habit carry us forward like the current of a river.
I don’t know about you but I really do try to think new thoughts every day. It’s a challenge that varies by the day in difficulty; and pandemic has not made it any easier I accept. Still, I try. And that’s all that any of us can do. We aren’t all Monet’s. There were other artists, contemporaries of Monet, who refused his techniques. Some followed along later and aren’t as well known. Some waited still longer and modified his practices and turned Impressionism into quite something else, newer yet. And in the 1960’s, and in the 2000’s other artists who themselves were trying to “forget the name of the things” have reinvented art and seeing again and again and again. It’s not a job that is done once. It is a continual process. In art, in life, in love…
We produce destructive people by the way we are treating them in childhood.
I wish folk could realize just how true those words are.
There are some who stand on the shoulders of giants—and offer humble gratitude to those that came before.
There are others who stand on the shoulders of giants, then glibly congratulate themselves for how high they’ve reached—ignoring the toil, the talent, the trailblazing—that undergirds their vantage point.
There are still others who have taken the latter—and transformed into into a political ideology.
There are some…
I do not speak of God, I speak of love.
I do not speak of the devil, I speak of intolerance.
I do not speak of angels, I speak of service.
I do not speak of death, I speak of the value of all life.
The truth is not an opinion or a belief. It cannot be found by shouting and argument, but in the silence of a simple living compassion.
If we do not serve all beings with a loving heart, what do we contribute to the world?
What value does our life really have?
The new day begins with our own intimate reflection – how much more can I give?
May all beings everywhere be safe, secure and harm free.
May all beings be happy.
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