How not to lose heart. Nothing feels more important than this right now. For those concerned about the survival of our democracy, our planet, our way of life, and relative peace between nations, this may feel like a rather daunting task. Yet every day it’s my number one question: How do I not give up?
Pema Chödrön thought it important enough that she dedicated a whole chapter to it in her latest book, Welcoming the Unwelcome. In it, she offers a few key suggestions: First, “Remember that everything we do matters.”
If you doubt this, consider your day, and how much impact one person can have on it, positively or negatively. An unexpected smile from a stranger can spawn hope, while someone’s anger when we’re tender can be rattling. These small moments of engendered hope or despair then affect not just our day but sometimes our whole lives.
Ten years ago a man stood to the side of a country road and let my speeding car pass when what I expected (and perhaps rightly deserved) was a shout, an angry face, a raised middle finger, a threat, a curse word or two. Instead, his gentleness in that one moment touched me so deeply that he changed the trajectory of my day; that moment then became a tremendous life lesson for me; and he later became a revered and treasured friend. That seemingly insignificant moment, along with so many others that I can think of, is proof to me that, ‘Everything we do matters.’ Our actions (and reactions) count. We are all co-creators of the world around us. This gives us tremendous power – and with it – great responsibility. In each moment, I have a choice to do something that adds to or subtracts from the ‘goodness’ of the world. An essential part of my job on this earth, then, is to maintain my own well-being, so that I’m able to make good choices moment to moment.
As Pema writes, “When more of us learn to trust our basic goodness, society will get stronger. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard times. It doesn’t mean violence, injustice and poverty will end. It doesn’t mean the polar ice caps won’t melt and the waters in the ocean won’t rise. But it does mean that there will be a lot of resilient people who will never give up on humanity and will always be around to help others.”
May we each know our own power and goodness, and may we choose to use it wisely, with consideration for all.
Keep heart. Don’t give up.