Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a man who was, and still is, loved among family, friends, and members of the congregation he helped to build.
From the time he knew his death was approaching to the planning of the memorial and the actual celebration of his life, the lives of about thirty people were consumed into creating this event. People who held off sleep, housekeeping and other rituals of their life to think about, write, communicate, select, travel, arrange chairs and tables, cater, and clean up afterwards. For the closest members of the family, including the man whose life was celebrated, the effort was extraordinary. In a way it took whole life times across generations to come to this. Learning, striving, struggle, fear and joy, and ultimately the conclusion of this celebration was proof of the abundance of love.
As I think about the interdependent web in which I live, I see the same elements, the many celebrations of life, the art of living. These include the skills of planning a dinner with love, cleaning the house and washing the dishes – all to celebrate the joy of food with company. I see the theatre festival built on thousands of hours of learning how to write, stage, advertise, to garner an army of volunteers with lifetime training in their craft. I see generations of scientific study and the institutions of learning that have endured centuries of change to produce the best doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers, to sustain a functional civil society.
Our own children who have branched out to develop their own lives, struggle to nurture their own families which include their closest friends. I think about their constant focus on researching and caring which all began with two egos who fell in love and decided to invest in life itself. I look on all these things and think – what a wonderful world! What wonderful surprising creatures we are.
From the blessings of my life I have learned that building community requires me to listen to others whether I agree with them or not, to share my honest thoughts with them, to help others by working with their needs instead of giving advice, to co-operate, to do no harm, to find common ground and to celebrate their successes. The energy I have learned to use in community is shared leadership.
Then I turn on the radio and learn about another politicianwho won an election, not on nurturing the values most of us use every day, but on a campaign of fear and intolerance. If I am to believe he was fairly elected how is it the voters give themselves wholeheartedly to life yet vote against the energies that nurture it?
How is it that we see power working in our lives when we work together, and yet we select the voices of intolerance, cruelty and bigotry as if the only power we have is to vote against those who are different. How is it that we don’t get it when we are oppressed by transnational corporations, the 1%, the power elite – yet we are outraged that those with less than us, may need help?
This is the gap in our understanding of how our power works. It’s easy to gain more influence by funding movements built on fear and hate if power is already centralized in a system of values that keeps the masses unaware of their own value, their capacity to organize and to create the communities they want.