Monday, December 1, 2008

An antidote for a crazy world.

I'm sorry, but I just have to take a moment to digress from the generally easy-breeziness of this page and pause...

Like many of you, I found last week's news disturbing and infuriating. The insanity of hatred staining the beauty of life in Mumbai and Congo, and the gluttony of our consumer culture scraping new lows on the blackest of Fridays has left me profoundly sad.

But even amid the sadness there is hope and good news -- if we let it in. We can triumph over hatred and evil. All it takes are overwhelming acts of love and good will. I think we've got it in us...

One of my musical idols Pete Seger has a banjo inscribed with his motto, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." I love that. It's simple and doable. For those who roll their eyes and think this pollyannish, I challenge the effectiveness of smart bombs and preemptive strikes to the overwhelming power of truth and nonviolence. Even though they're dead, I'll stand on the side of King, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Jesus any day, rather than with the saber-rattling ideological hawks of any era.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it." Martin Luther King, Jr.

And I find sad and twisted irony in Friday's tragedy on Long Island. A truly bleak and ugly picture of our collective selves squeezing and clawing our way through the doors of a mega-box store, for what? A $9 Incredible Hulk DVD? I can't imagine pitching a fit if a guard asked me to leave because someone lost his life in the mayhem. I can't help but hurt for that man's family and send nonstop prayers. A dark day, indeed. And it happened at Wal Mart. Need I say more?

There was something far more positive and compelling observed last Friday -- National Listening Day. And Lyda participated. It was a very cool and meaningful new tradition. Instead of shopping, we practiced our interviewing skills and then sat down with Grandma Bobbie and Grandpa Joe to ask questions and listen.

Lyda started with the basic "favorite color" and "hobbies" questions, which opened the door for stories from her grandparents' childhoods. The sessions were brief, yet at times laborious due to her copious note-taking, letter-by-letter (How do you spell blue?). It was beautiful and a peaceful respite from the news of the day.

Read more. Play more. And listen more.

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