Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spite Speech

Andy Bull reports in The Guardian (Thursday, May 31 2012) about Rebecca Adlington's decision to turn away from social media during the games. Adlington, an Olympic Champion used to tough competition and daily discipline,  is choosing to turn away from social media during the Olympics because of negative body-image focused comments directed at her - spiteful speech.

Spiteful speech might seem really funny at a party, but spite speech is a way we assert our superiority over others, at their expense. Yet spiteful speech doesn't end with the remark hitting its target. Spiteful speech poisons more widely, because it warns others that they, too, may become targets. Spiteful speech is not an Olympic sport, but with the widespread practice on broadcast and social media, in diners and in chat rooms, it is a sport that is undermining the growth of healthy diverse communities. Spite speech kicks, goads, degrades, and drags us back into conformity or into silence. And since spite speech is a form of revenge, it is a tool of social control that stimulates our brains like reaching for a candy bar - short-term personal satisfaction at greater social expense.

Spite speech changes our behavior with sharp punishment (becoming a target) and reward (the power of the speaker). I know how easily I can slip into spiteful speech, losing track of my reverence for the inherent worth and dignity of each being, losing track of my relationship with all of life. Instead, I slip into a fearful and defensive place, masked behind swagger and superiority. My faith and my faithful promises call me to live differently, to live respectfully and humbly, to live with compassion and support the dignity of every being. Those are lofty goals and difficult daily practices, but they are the truer sporting way: the challenge is on me to be stronger in my faithful practices.

Tearing each other apart is a practice of bullying, destroying community by giving us only shallow forms and a narrow conformity within which we might safely live. Social media, like other ways of living in community, works best when we are living generously and compassionately, building each other up, supporting and sustaining one another in sharing our gifts for greater goodness. Every one of us has gifts to share for the good. As a person of faith, I believe society's work is to encourage each other and make ways for us to share those gifts for goodness. Some of us may be astounding Olympic champions and some of us may be fantastic bakers and some of us may teach in difficult circumstances and some of us may have a smile for every person. But all of us can share encouraging words with one another, hold bullies accountable in love and insist on my generous speech, and take responsibility for the world in which we really wish to live.

Spite speech is a choice. We can choose another way, a way of generosity, a way of love, a way of accountability and responsibility. Let's compete with that, and discover anew our spiritual athleticism.

June 2012 Prayer/Rezo - Transcendence/Trascedencia

Each monthly prayer is keyed to the Quest for Meaning’s monthly theme. June’s theme is Transcendence. When we speak of transcendence in a spiritual way, we must begin with the question, “what are we transcending?” Is it a personal tragedy, a great obstacle to well-being in the world, our imperfections, or a yearning for vengeance? Some seek to transcend the every day world, others to transcend hell, whether a nether world or right here and now.  As in every prayer, add your own hopes, dreams, and intentions.

My Heart lead me beyond this present trouble, around me and in my soul. Teach me to soar like a dragonfly, warmed by your grace. Strengthen me to let go of what is petty, what is harmful, what drags my spirit down and tears at the spirits of others. When I meet resistance, in my soul and in this world, grant me the courage to find the way of transformation, that we all may turn toward the greater good with greater joy and greater peace. My Heart you lead us in celebration and in sorrow, in mercy and in generosity, in grace and in hope all our days. May we live into your love, now and always. Amen.

Cada rezo mensual se afina al tem mensual de Quest for Meaning. El tem en junio es Trascedencia. Cuando hablamos de trscendencia de una manera espirtual, debemos comenzar con la pregunta, qué estamos superando? Es una tragedia personal, es un gran obstáculo al bienestar del mundo, es nuestra imperfecciones, o es un deseo vivo para la venganza? Una cierta búsqueda para superar el mundo mundane, una cierta búsqueda para superar infierno, si un infierno que usted desciende o un infierno a a derecha aquí y ahora. Como con cada rezo, agregue sus propias esperanzas, sueños, e intenciones.

Mi Corazón me lleva más allá de este actual apuro, alrededor de mí y en mi alma. Enséñeme a elevarse como una libélula, calentado por su tolerancia. Consolídeme para dejar par air de cuál es pequeño, cuál es dañoso, qué arrastra en mi alma y rasgones las almas de otras.  Cuando resuelvo resistencia, en mi alma ye en este mundo, concédame el valor de encontrar la manera de transformación que todos podemos dar vuelta hacia el mayor bueno con mayor alegría y mayor paz. Mi Corazón, usted no lleva en la celebración y el dolor, en misericordia y en generosidad, en tolerancia y en esperanza todos nuestros días. Podemos vivimos en su amor, ahora y siempre. Amen.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Share & Bear

Every one has troubles to contend with in this life. We have minor irritations and major frustrations, enormous losses and tiny cuts, swamps of disappointment and oceans of sorrows.

Every one has blessings to enjoy with this life. We have the gifts of breath and kindness, the chance to create more love and to live generously. We can hold and create goodness, nurture a better world, learn and change.

We have both choice and creative possibility in how we live with the troubles we have.  We will have sadness and anger and resentment and self-pity, even. But we can also make greater happiness, greater goodness.

There are five practices that each of us can try out and grow skillful in, five practices that have no financial barriers to doing and that can be carried out by people of every religion and none. Truthfully, there are probably more than five practices, but these are the ones I know from my own life with troubles and with blessing.

1.     Act for the greater good. Tending the earth, tending the city, tending a person reconnects us to our own power and abilities, to doing something good, and to reconnecting us with the whole.
2.     Make friends and spend time with them. Sitting around, laughing together, is one of the most precious of blessings. Expensive outings and gear are not required, only the heart to treasure another person.
3.     Be grateful. Bing Crosby sings in Holiday Inn, “I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For”. Naming and focusing in on what we can truly be grateful for, all the little and big things, eases and opens our hearts and returns us to a place of well-being.
4.     Live compassionately. In my own struggles with yearning for revenge (or “justice”), I have to choose compassion, remind myself, and turn to an act of compassion to reopen my heart. What are some acts of compassion? A kindness to a stranger, mercy when you could press the advantage and triumph, an act of charity all qualify. Learning to name compassionate acts and then live into them is part of growing this practice.
5.     Connect to the goodness going on. Others all around us and with us are acting compassionately, lovingly, and for the greater good. Seek out and share their stories. Give thanks for them and help them out. You’re not the only one hurting. You’re not the only one who’s living for greater hope and greater love in this world. I find that really good news, making the difficult easier to bear and the good easier to share.

The good life may be summarized: share and bear. Share the kindness and the joy, the love and what you have. Share the sorrows, too. Bear one another up, and bear on, doing all we can to ease each others' burdens, to add to the love in this world, and to act each day as part of the greater good.