To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
Friday night Ron and son Matt and I saw "12 Years a Slave." I resisted going for some time to see this film because I knew it would be heart wrenching. And it was.
Just imagine if we all had the courage to go to the darkest places inside ourselves and our families and our histories and our culture and the world. Just imagine if we each set an intention to look more deeply, to explore our part in the sorrows, horrors, cruelties, injustices, and inhumane belief systems, judgments, betrayals, oppressions, projections, prejudices within ourselves and each other and this beautiful planet we all share. Imagine if we each committed and renewed each day the intention to be in this world with our eyes and minds and hearts open... open to both our wounds and to the profound wisdom, joy, beauty, love and compassion which the doorway of our wounds offers us? We live in a world and a culture which often gives the message to turn away from our pain and suffering and that of others, which then serves to feed our individual and collective despair, depression, denial, and delusions. Keep busy, be happy, go shopping, pick up a drink or pop a pill, blame someone, fix someone, join the cult of powerlessness, look away, look away, look away.
Just imagine if instead we heard and spread messages which nourished mindfulness rather than ignorance within ourselves, one another, and all beings. Just imagine if we committed to a practice of recognizing, embracing, healing, and transforming our fears and judgments and the many faces of our suffering and that of other beings. Just imagine how our own hearts and the heart of the world would expand rather than contract if we each chose to become mindful of our own wounds and if we consciously chose to touch our sorrows and fears and the ways in which we have harmed ourselves and others with a great heart of compassion. Separation from our pain and our joy and that of other beings would be transformed into a deep sense of awareness, connectedness, compassion. We would awaken.
I fully recognize that this path is difficult. Yet, my experience has also taught me that it takes just as much energy to stay asleep as it does to wake up. And without the intention to awaken, we remain ignorant of our part in the suffering in the world. We also remain blind to the suffering within our own hearts. We cannot open to our pain and our joy without opening to that of other beings. It has been a miraculous journey for me to move over the past 30 years from the delusion of feeling deeply separate and alone to the experience of our interconnectedness. Thích Nhất Hạnh refers to this as Interbeing. I love that word and how deeply it touches my heart and soul. I am profoundly grateful for 12 Years a Slave and all that has the potential to break our hearts wide open. This is the gift that I have discovered within my own personal tragedies and those of the world. And without the courage to move toward that which horrifies us, without doing our own individual and collective shadow work, racism will continue, as will all forms of prejudice and oppression and the illusion of "us" versus an "Other" to be judged and condemned... or not even noticed. How many of us are even mindful of what we eat each day and the suffering of other beings? Can we learn to care, or to care more deeply? Can we increase our commitment to be brave? And aware? My belief is that if we are alive and breathing air, there is more work we each can do to grow in consciousness.
Without the courage and commitment to embrace our blind spots, fears, delusions, cultural conditioning, and the many split off parts of ourselves, the pain and ignorance that manifests in so many ways will continue unabated. Wars will continue as will cutting down rainforests, factory farms, nuclear power plants, rape, domestic violence, denial of global warming, child abuse and neglect, addictions of all forms, insatiable greed, human trafficking, 25,000+ children dying daily of preventable poverty related causes, the daily suicide of 22 American veterans, the obscene upward redistribution of wealth, institutional poverty, sweat shops and other forms of exported slavery, and all forms of violence toward humans and other beings and our Sacred Earth Mother. Etc., etc., etc.
Another world is possible. Just imagine if we each could be inspired by the breathtaking courage of Lupita Nyong and Chiwetel Ejiofor and all those who brought 12 Years a Slave to life. Just imagine how different our world would be if we each made a vow to go inward and become mindful... mindful of what we each carry inside and how our wounds, our pain and suffering, our Sacred being connects us with the wounds and suffering and with the amazing strength and wisdom and breathtaking beauty and love that is threaded through us all? It is my belief that we each hold the seeds of consciousness and compassion within ourselves. This is the beauty of our true nature. We each have the capacity to awaken, to remember and recognize the Sacred within our precious selves and that of all of life.
And in seeing the Sacred within all a sense of profound caring and compassion would grow and grow within each and every one of us. And that would be what we spread in the world.
Please, if you already haven't, go see 12 Years a Slave or whatever it is that may break your heart wide open again and again and again. Courage is contagious. As is remembering what we have forgotten. We are all connected, we are all in this together. Another world is possible.
Lupita Nyong'o celebrates winning Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award for '12 Years a Slave' in the
press room during the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd, 2014
Bernie Sanders says he is “prepared to run for president of the United States.” That’s not a formal announcement. A lot can change between now and 2016, and the populist senator from Vermont bristles at the whole notion of a permanent campaign. But Sanders has begun talking with savvy progressive political strategists, traveling to unexpected locations such as Alabama and entertaining the process questions that this most issue-focused member of the Senate has traditionally avoided.
In some senses, Sanders is the unlikeliest of prospects: an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but has never joined the party, a democratic socialist in a country where many politicians fear the label “liberal,” an outspoken critic of the economic, environmental and social status quo who rips “the ruling class” and calls out the Koch brothers by name. Yet, he has served as the mayor of his state’s largest city, beaten a Republican incumbent for the US House, won and held a historically Republican Senate seat and served longer as an independent member of Congress than anyone else. And he says his political instincts tell him America is ready for a “political revolution.”
In his first extended conversation about presidential politics, Sanders discussed withThe Nationthe economic and environmental concerns that have led him to consider a 2016 run; the difficult question of whether to run as a Democrat or an independent; his frustration with the narrow messaging of prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton; and his sense that political and media elites are missing the signs that America is headed toward a critical juncture where electoral expectations could be exploded.
John Nichols: Are you going to run for president in 2016?
Bernie Sanders: I don’t wake up every morning, as some people here in Washington do and say, “You know, I really have to be president of the United States. I was born to be president of the United States.” What I do wake up every morning feeling is that this country faces more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression, and there is a horrendous lack of serious political discourse or ideas out there that can address these crises, and that somebody has got to represent the working-class and the middle-class of this country in standing up to the big-money interests who have so much power over the economic and political life of this country. So I am prepared to run for president of the United States. I don’t believe that I am the only person out there who can fight this fight, but I am certainly prepared to look seriously at that race.
When you say you are “prepared to run,” that can be read in two ways. One is to say you have the credentials, the prominence, the following to seek the office. The other is to say that you are making preparations for a run. How do you parse that?
If the question is, am I actively right now organizing and raising money and so forth for a campaign for president, I am not doing that. On the other hand, am I talking to people around the country? Yes, I am. Will I be doing some traveling around the country? Yes, I will be. But I think it’s premature to be talking about (the specifics of) a campaign when we still have a 2014 congressional race in front of us.
I want to push back at some of what you are saying. Political insiders define presidential politics, and they are already hard at work, in both major parties and in the broader sense, to erect barriers to insurgent, dissident, populist campaigns. Don’t progressives who come at the process slowly run the risk of finding that everything has been locked up by the time they get serious about running?
Obviously, if I run, both in terms of the positions that I’ll be advocating, and the process itself, it will have to be a very unconventional campaign. I hear what you are saying, and I think there is truth in what you are saying. But, on the other hand, I think there is profound disgust among the American people for the conventional political process and the never-ending campaigns. If I run, my job is to help bring together the kind of coalition that can win—that can transform politics. We’ve got to bring together trade unionists and working families, our minority communities, environmentalists, young people, the women’s community, the gay community, seniors, veterans, the people who in fact are the vast majority of the American population. We’ve got to create a progressive agenda and rally people around that agenda.
I think we’ve got a message that can resonate, that people want to hear, that people need to hear. Time is very important. But I don’t think it makes sense—or that it is necessary—to start a campaign this early.
Please continue this article here:http://www.thenation.com/blog/178717/bernie-sanders-i-am-prepared-run-president-united-states.