How Listening Is the First Step Towards Peace
“[Without understanding, compassion is impossible. When you understand the suffering of others, you do not need to force yourself to feel compassion, the door to your heart will naturally open…. We need to look after the victims here within our country and also have compassion for the hijackers and their families because they are victims of ignorance and hatred. We need a wake up call now in order not to allow hatred to overwhelm our hearts.
The deep reason for our current situation is our patterns of consumption. USA citizens consume 60% of the world’s energy resources yet they account for only 6% of the world’s population. Another reason: Children in America have witnessed 100,000 acts of violence on television before they finish elementary school. Another reason for our current situation is our foregin policy and the lack of deep listening – we do not listen deeply to the causes of suffering and the real needs of people in other nations.
… When we have taken the time to listen deeply, we then can begin to develop the energy of brother and sisterhood among all the nations. To develop a drop of compassion in our own hearts is the only effective spiritual response to hatred and violence. That drop of compassion will result in calming our anger, in having the courage to look at the roots of our violence, and how we perpetuate it, and will allow us to understand the sufferings of everyone involved in any act of hatred and violence.]”
From an Interview with Thich Nhat Hanh
“[Speak your truth. Listen to others as they speak theirs, too.
When you let go of fear, you will learn to love others, and they will learn to love you. Do not be afraid of dying; and do not be afraid to live and to ask what living means for you. Open your heart to love, for that is why you are here….]”
Author Melody Beattie – Releasing Co-dependency
We are the generation that stands between the fires… Behind us are the fires and smoke that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima… Before us the nightmare of twisted rubble and broken lives of Tuesday’s fire and smoke… It is a flame of hate that threatens to consume us and to place the rest of our lives in jeopardy…
But our task is to make from this fire, not an all consuming flame, but from its warmth, a light in which we will truly see each other fully. All of us are different, all of us bearing sparks of a single holy flame. For this moment onward, we shall light our fires to see each others more clearly, see the rainbow of colors and faces that show us that we are one. Blessed is the One within the many. And Blessed is the Many who, by their light, their faith, their hope, and their love, will make us one.
Arthur Waskow- adapted
In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually turning into a wilderness… Which will destroy us…
I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I believe that all will come out right, and this cruelty will end., and peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I will uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I will be able to carry them out.
From the Diary of Anne Frank
May our eyes remain open in the face of tragedy. May we not become disheartened, but let the experience of loss dissolve our apathy and denial in the cup of our broken hearts. May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service of something greater than ourselves,. May our suffering serve to purify us and not paralyze us.
May we endure and may our sorrow bond us and not separate us; may we realize that our sorrow makes us great in compassion and immune to the flames of hate.
May we not be afraid to see or to speak out truth, and be blessed with the remembrance of who we really are, and what humanity is capable of and can be.
The Terma Collective adapted
Pastoral Prayer: For whom The Bell Tolls ( from John Donne’s famous poem…)
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Perchance he for whom the bell tolls… Knows not that it tolls for him; and perchance I might think myself better than I am, as are they who are about me… And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
Holy and Gracious Spirit, that lives in us all, and is expressed through us all,
We gather this evening to remember: to pay homage, to gain solace, to give voice to grief, and to shelter our anger until our feelings of sorrow can, through the comfort of human empathy, transform themselves into release, relief and forgiveness.
The bells across our nation toll for all those lost, and our attention and our gratitude, goes out to all those heroes and heroines of this past year: our brave civil servants; the courageous police, fire, and medical people who unselfishly gave their lives to respond to the the disaster, saving countless numbers and averting a far more devastating disaster. We also gratefully recall the soldiers, sailors and pilots who responded to their call to duty and did not return to their families. They gave, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “the last full measure of devotion.”
Our prayers this evening to go out to all the widows and widowers, to the fatherless and motherless children, and especially to the orphans whose lives will never be the same. We take all who are suffering into our hearts, and we extend to them our compassion, our caring, our peace…. It is if the arms of a whole nation embrace their loss as our own; and we struggle to make sense of hatred and violence, and we seek comfort for our own doubts, fears, and anxieties.
We pray in sacred intention, to find answers…. For the causes of this tragedy and we pray for the courage to face our own present terrors…. We are comforted by our connections to one another; by our caring for those who share our lives, knowing that over this small fragile world, humanity of every color, race, and belief exists as one universal family, entire of itself, so that every act of hatred breaks our hearts.
As we have gathered to share our grief, and in that sharing lessen its burdens, let us remember that victor and victim are always linked, and regardless of government policies and contrasting beliefs systems, there really is never a victory as long as any child suffers… None of us is an island, we are connected through both our joys and our sorrows. Let us pray for peace…..
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
A Prayer for Our Children
I now will offer a prayer for our children, for those parents who will not be coming home, for all the children of our world who will inherit this world from us….
Whose blood now runs into the rivers of the world? Whose breath now can only sing in the sorrows of our universe? In the eye of the enemy, can you not see reflected, your own soul? When a baby cries among the poor and outcast, do you long to hold her? Can you comfort, will you rock her?…. All children are our children… May we embrace all human bodies, may we not collapse into our suffering…. All children are our children ….
A Litany for Our Children….
Which has as its response, Spirit of Life, we pray to you…
O Ruler of all, Spirit of Life, let us pray for our children and for our world….
For the sake of all children, bring an end to the buildup of weapons. Preserve us from the attitudes that are willing to use such weapons, for we hold our children’s future before us… Spirit of Life, we pray to you…
For the sake of all our children, bring an end to conflict and war between nations. Give us the hearts and minds of peace, to teach only peace to our children. Spirit of Life, we pray to you…
For the sake of our children, bring an end to the misuse of the land, water and the earth… Teach us to be faithful stewards of all the Creation’s resources. Spirit of Life, we pray to you…
For the sake of our children, bring an end to injustices caused or abetted by those in places of power. May our hearts and minds change wealth to charity, power into service, and arrogance into humility so that we can hear the cries of our children. Spirit of Life, pray for us…
Holy God, Sprit of Life, through whom all is transformed and made whole, grant us and our children a newness of life. Give us hope, and faith, and a capacity to love that is unbounded by human fears. May we all have enough; enough to eat, enough to live; and may all the children have enough trust in their lives to rest secure in your love.
O Holy One, whom we also call our Father and Mother, We ask these things on behalf of our children, and the future we shall give them. AMEN.
from The Children’s Defense Fund adapted
“[A man and a woman leap from the burning South Tower hand in hand…. they reached for each other and their hands met, and they jumped. I try to whisper prayers for the sudden dead, and the harrowed families of the dead, and the screaming souls of the murderers, but I keep coming back to his hand in her hand, nestled into each other, with such extraordinary love.
It is the most powerful prayer I could imagine; the most eloquent… It is everything we are capable of when faced with horror, loss and tragedy. It makes me feel that we are not fools to believe in God. To believe that, as human beings, we have a greatness and a holiness within them that are like seed pods that open only under a great fire or pressure…. To believe, against all the contrary evil evidence, that love is why we are here.]”
From the PBS Frontline Documentary on the Spiritual Effects of 9/11
“[And I saw a river, over which everyone must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven; and the name of that river was suffering. And I saw a boat which carries the soul across that river, and the name of that boat is love.
St. John of the Cross- Ascent to Mt. Carmel
The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen, they are experienced through the heart…. Helen Keller
Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of becoming.
Goethe, German poet and scientist
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. –Benjamin Franklin
Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
Gandalf the Grey, by J.R.R Tolkien
Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
Personal commitment can lead to a better understanding of self:
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… But no plans.”
— Peter F(erdinand) Drucker
“If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess of commitment to some special and constricting idea.” Richard Hofstadter
“Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.”
— Howard Thurman
Fear can be a powerful ally in moving forward: “Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.”
Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.
–Robert Anthony, American psychologist
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. –Helen Keller
Courage is fear that has said its prayers Karl Barth
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” –
Marianne Williamson, quoted by Nelson Mandela.
“To defend one’s self against fear is simply to ensure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced.”
James Arthur Baldwin
Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
Leonardo da Vinci
“There are times when fear is good. It must keep its watchful place at the heart’s controls. There is advantage in the wisdom won from pain.” Aeschylus
“Only when one is connected to one’s inner core is one connected to others. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be re-found through solitude.”
Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh, American aviator and writer of “North to the Orient”
The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.
– Felix Adler