The November 2016 edition of Lion’s Roar magazine was sitting in my mailbox this morning. “Hope & Healing: Buddhist wisdom for a troubled time.” Perfect timing as we enter the final 30 days of the political campaign, which has made it feel as though the entire country is slowly drowning in cynicism.
I took the magazine in the house and then walked over to the corner market. On a rail outside the door, someone had scrawled “LOVE ALL SOULS” using a paint pen. Handily the most redeeming graffiti I’ve seen in a while.
I came home, had a quick lunch and then picked up Lion’s Roar, which opened at the center, right along the staples. There, in the midst of a collection of short writings about how to be a good citizen in troubled political times called “We The People,” sat this gem of a teaching by Karen Maezen Miller, a priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles.
You Make All The Difference
Be generous with your attention, that you might dispel the loneliness and isolation that divide us.
Be generous with your time and money. They go furthest when freed from your own hands.
Make room for all the people — even if they’re the majority — who don’t think or act like you. Make an enemy of no one.
Be humble. Let others speak. Let others rant. Give argument no mind. Your opinion alters no one’s. Be humble.
Have abundant patience and trust, knowing that things change in ways you cannot predict. Recognize hate as fear, greed as poverty, and ignorance as our common plight.
Have faith. Spread cheer. Do good. With an open heart and clear mind, vote. Everything you think, say, and do, however small, has a monumental consequence. Your influence is boundless, so take infinite care.
You make all the difference in the world. Give it all you’ve got.
Take a moment and then read it again. Pause. Breathe. Read it a third time, letting the words slowly seep into all those places inside that are starting to harden because of the non-stop exposure to cynicism and fear and distrust, and everything else that creates a sense of “other.”
Sometimes we need to be reminded in a very specific way of our potential. Today, I needed these exact words, an antidote to the last 36 hours in America.