I don’t think it would take much on my part to convince you that things are in terrible shape. The “rumors” of wars are not mere rumors — but actualities. We see the evidence live nightly as we attempt to keep ourselves from being numbed by the extreme suffering happening around the world.
Thoughts on such things spilled out into the conversation during my Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Even beyond the reports of wars, climate change was also acknowledged as of great concern. Added to all that, we each had horror stories to tell about having to wrestle with updated Internet platforms that surpass any personal recognition. Each of us reported on how we have had to become our own electronic technicians and spend hours to free our software from the seemingly cavalier arbitrariness of various Internet corporations updating their (and our) platforms. We all agreed that we are tossed hither and yon on this relentless sea of technological demands.
As I wrote in a recent introduction to an upcoming interview with Oren Jay Sofer, author of Your Heart Was Made for This, “In this century with its infinite complexities and pressures [our ancestors] did not have to contend with a bombardment of reportings of mass shootings, wars, and other ecological and social catastrophes. Nor were they being doggedly chased by social media algorithms trying to convince them to consume stuff and goods that would soon be obsolete. In today’s climate of overwhelm, the clear questions that arise are: how do we find the strength and clarity necessary to engage skillfully with these immense problems of our time? And what are the inner resources available to us.”
In his book, Sofer suggests the practice of devotion connects us with activism. He writes, “Activism, caregiving, service, singing, growing vegetables, planting a tree — all can be meaningful acts of devotion that connect us to something larger than ourselves.… A single moment of generosity, offered with complete devotion, connects us with all acts of generosity.…What we do with wholehearted devotion becomes a holistic expression of our being, an act of beauty and selflessness beyond the everyday realm of time, roles, and duties.”
With all this in mind, the conversation around the Thanksgiving gathering turned to gratitude. We each spoke into this circle of friends what we were grateful for. This fueled each of us to deny despair to dominate our lives.
Even as we look in the dragon’s mouth of all the contrary evidence to goodness in the world, I believe goodness will prevail. And I will keep throwing my small stone of generosity and decency into the pond of human consciousness and trust it will ripple out and join with others in making this world a better place for all.