Listening to the Pain of the World
They say a parent loves their child so much that the child’s needs come first. Through exhaustion and fatigue, through early mornings and late nights, through rebellion, lies, and being ignored, a parent will ensure their child’s survival and even its thriving.
This is how I want to love the world.
I want to love a world that sometimes destroys itself, that often exploits and oppresses, that honors greed, hatred and delusion, ignores reason and wisdom, and often loses its way.
I want to love it because that is the world we have.
I want to hold steady my ideals and vision for a free and just society while deeply acknowledging that the world we have is exhaustingly incongruous to this ideal.
When two strings are out of tune with each other they cause dissonance. It is by deeply listening to this discordant sound that we can finely tune an instrument towards beauty and harmony.
This is our work- to deeply listen to the pain of the world, to listen to oppression and to listen to hate. It is through this listening that we can tune it towards justice, freedom, and yes… even love.
But, there is a chasm of doubt between where we are and where we want to go. The strings of the world are too heavy for any one person, and none of us are properly trained on how to turn their pegs.
And yet, this is what the world needs, and this is how I want to love.
What we are really dealing with here is akin to the original meaning of compassion: ‘suffering with.’ It is the distress we feel in connection with the larger whole of which we are a part. It is our pain for the world… We are not closed off from the world, but rather are integral components of it, like cells in a larger body. When part of that body is traumatized- in the sufferings of fellow beings, in the pillage of our planet, and even in the violation of future generations- we sense that trauma too.
-Joanna Macy, Working Through Environmental Despair
“Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty…”
-Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sufi invocation