Thursday, December 20, 2012

Enabling Transformation

I haven't weighed in on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary yet. I've been about to post something everyday since last week but somehow never felt sufficiently sure I was adding anything to the conversation. I have been reading though and something is abundantly clear, beyond the fact that there are some truly stupid people making suggestions and explaining why and how something like this could happen.  What is clear is that people are searching for" THE ANSWER". People seem to believe that we can have some magic single solution like taking a pill for a headache.

One of the most important lessons of Zen is that there is not one solitary path to enlightenment or the proper way. Every seeker must find their own way on their own terms. The lessons of Zen can point out the general direction and illuminate errors but they cannot lead you there.  There is no single "right" way.

There are a multitude of societal problems that enabled this and the other tragedies. We instinctively know that there is no "THE ANSWER" . There is no single answer that, by itself, will stop  mass slayings and the other atrocities we seem to witness day in and day out.  There is no simple solution for the millions of deadly weapons in the country just like there is no simple answer to 20% of American children going to bed hungry at night. We have to understand and internalize the fact that in order to change anything we will require myriad answers and tugging on dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of the strands that weave through the universe.

I am not so bold enough to suggest that I even have a clue as to what to do, which strings to pull, but I do understand one thing. Not one of us, as an individual, can make a significant change happen within society as a whole. We, individually, don't have that kind of power. The only power we truly possess is the power to change ourselves. That means that if we want to see change in our society the change needs to begin within ourselves. If we want the collective to move in a different direction or what we see as a more positive direction then we, as individuals, need to move in that direction. If enough of us move in a positive direction and change, then society will be changed as well.  A society and its behavior reflect that of its constituents. Period.

So, you might ask, what is the positive direction? We can start by rejecting violence as an answer and this includes war as a form of diplomacy. We can reject the "Screw you I got mine" mentality.  We can reject unfairness and incivility. We need to embrace diversity and inclusion. We need to recognize the sanctity of life in all its forms. We need to understand that we are on a small spaceship with limited resources and that if we don't carefully nuture it and our relationship with it we will perish. We need to grasp that what happens to the least of us happens to all of us.  That's just a start and the list is long but you get the gist.

Finally, we must recognize that what we seek is transformation from where we are to where we want to be. It won't happen quickly and the vision may and probably will change as it evolves. The important thing is that it be positive and that it evolves. Lastly and most importantly, we can't wait for someone else to begin this transformation. We can't wait for someone else to show us the way. If we look to ourselves we already know which direction to head.

I need to move toward the goal and you need to move toward the goal. If we each don't personally and fully embody the change we need and want, then the transformation will not happen.


JimD said...

Wow. This is great and sounds like a speech from a man thinking of running for office. Go Monk!

disqus_CHbdI6bPvU said...

As Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world".