Tag Archives: Humanity

Grief, Love, and Remembrance

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A few days ago I found myself standing in front of the memorial for the victims of the racist, violent attack that happened last week on a MAX train in Portland. I stood there and cried, while other people did the same. Portland has always been my home, but standing there made me feel like I was somewhere else, in a place I didn’t know, even though I knew in my heart that it is very much this place, that led to this attack happening. This made it all the more painful. We have not done enough. I have not done enough. This incident has put a spotlight on the legacy of colonialism, racism, and white supremacy that is alive and well in our community and in our country. As long as hateful people can see their views reflected and held up in our society, these acts will continue. We must do more. I must do more. But, too many people claim to have the answers; claim to know the one righteous path forward. There is a general lack of humility and refusal to listen, that is pervasive is the current dialogue. Our community feels like it is both coming together and breaking apart all at once. But, I believe that there are no simple answers and I rarely trust those who claim to have them. Humans are more complicated than that. We live in both a causal condition, while also constantly striving towards free-will. Until we can recognize both the causality of our lives and our personal responsibility to act morally and ethically, we will continue to spin in circles of violence and extremism; of righteous self-indignation that leads to discord and the disintegration of compassion for others. We must start using love and empathy as verbs, not slogans. We must start listening, start seeking to understand that which makes us uncomfortable, and working to actively dismantle oppressive systems and ways of thinking that are woven into our culture. I am heartbroken that this happened and I grieve for the families who lost loved ones and those who were traumatized by this act of terror in our community. But, I will also continue to have hope knowing that most people are good people and that together we can work to make this world a better place for all.

 

A Love Letter to Humanity

(I wrote this letter last week for a class I’m taking on Love and Conflict Resolution and after writing it, decided I wanted to share it here-since really a love letter to humanity should probably be shared with people!)

Dear Humanity,

Let me begin by saying that this is a love letter, but before I can tell you why I love you I need to tell you how you have hurt me.

When I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 years old, I lived in rural Norther California. One day on my way to school, I looked out the car window and I watched a tree go down the road on the back of a logging truck; it was just one tree as that was all that would fit on that mammoth semi-truck. I watched in awe and horror as this once majestic tree that was older than anything else I knew to be living was transported down the road to its grave. I understood (even at that age), that that old growth redwood bound for one of the local lumber mills was an insult to the future of the environment and to humanity itself and in the blink of an eye I was turned into an activist.

From that day forward I began to learn all that I could about humanity’s impact on the environment and found comfort in studying science and history as a way to guide my path. While the peak of old-growth logging in the redwood forests was happening all around me, I began to learn that this was not an isolated incident. I discovered that globally, the tropical rainforests were being cut and burned at an alarming rate to clear land to raise cattle. I learned that plant and animal species were going extinct daily if not hourly (sometime even ones we had yet to discover!). And I learned that human beings were producing so many toxic chemicals that we were putting our own bodies at risk by constant exposure. The more I learned the more I couldn’t believe that we were letting these things happen. Why would we destroy the very ecosystems that we relied on for clean food, water and air? Why would we trade in our wild places for malls, cars and T.V.’s? Why would we allow for short term gain as a trade for long term survival? And why even when we knew that our behavior was problematic, would we keep doing what we were doing?

But, on the bright side I also found people and organizations that were doing things to stop the destruction of the environment and try to ensure a better future for us all. By the time I was 8 years old I was a member of Greenpeace, The World Wildlife Fund, and other activist non-profit organizations. In order to pay the membership fees to join these organizations, I began fundraising by making arts and crafts to sell in the community. I would set up a table with a donation jar and items for sale, as well as information on the cause I was fundraising for at the moment.

By the time I was in middle school (and had moved to Olympia, WA), I began to realize that, despite that hard work of activists across the globe, things were only getting worse. Of course there were many success and there are many things that have been saved as a result of activist work, but overall, on a global scale, our problems were increasing, not getting better. But, I still had hope. I believed that not enough time had passed to make the real kind of change that was necessary. I believed that things would get better, we just had to fight harder and educate more people. And I believed that people wanted to change, they just didn’t know how.

After high school, I went on to work professionally as an activist for various political organizations and personally began to engage in acts of non-violent civil disobedience during mass protests that had quickly spread across the country in the late 1990’s. I knew that I wasn’t just fighting for sea turtles, or trees, or air and water quality, I was fighting for our future; humanity’s future. I was fighting for a world where progress didn’t mean that some species got to keep living and some didn’t. I was fighting for a world were people didn’t have to question if the plastic bottle they drank from would give them cancer. And I was fighting for a world where people could still find peace and solace in wild places.

But, the crazy thing is humanity, you fought back. You kicked me and called me names. You pepper sprayed me and threatened to arrest me. You created T.V. shows to mock me and tell stories that questioned my intelligence. You even started to tell kids that to be like me meant that you were “un-American” and dangerous. And amazingly enough, you fought so hard to save your own destruction, that today, in 2013, you seem to be winning.

But, the crazy thing is that I’m fighting to save you because I love you. And I love you despite the three decades of fighting me back. I love you despite the threats and the harassment. I love you because you are the most beautiful thing I have ever known and I want future generations to get a chance at living.

Yes, life is difficult and not always pretty and there are horrible things that happen to people every day, many of them caused by other humans, but life is still beautiful and we owe it to future generations to let them experience it. And irrationally, the biggest reason that life is difficult and sometimes horrible is because of stuff that WE do to each other and to the planet, so helping to fix the problems in our environment is really about helping to fix problems within ourselves.

I don’t love humanity because of the terrible things we are capable of, I love humanity because despite these things, we mostly treat each other well and are capable of great love and empathy. I love that even though people experience unimaginable tragedies and sorrow, we still make art, poetry, and create deep connections again and again in our lives. I love that despite the fact that we are often separated by language, culture and tradition, we all still share common experiences and emotions that bring us together.

I love you, humanity, because of love itself; the love between parents and children, the love between lovers, and love between friends. I love you because you write incredible books and cook amazing food. I love the way that you will get up early just to watch a sunrise and the way you will cry when your dog dies. I love that you love beautiful things like dancing, art, wild natural places, and flowers in the front yard. I love your sense of humor and your ability to see the best in the most unimaginably difficult situations. I love your diversity and the thousands of languages you speak. I love your celebrations and decadence as well as your ability to be humble and introspective. I love that you live in mud huts and wood houses, tents and high rise apartments. I love that you know how to track an animal across the plaines to feed your community and that you grow gardens on the rooftops of new buildings. I love the way you smell and that you have dreams larger than anything we have ever known to be possible.

And I love that even though things are getting worse and the fight seems impossible at times, some people are still fighting because they love you and they have hope that someday you will learn to love yourself enough to ensure the continuation of our collective future. For myself, I often loose hope and am not sure that anything will make a difference, but despite that, I know that I can never give up because I love you and without love there will be no humanity left worth saving.

Love,

The Perpetual Vagabond (AKA Lauriel~Arwen)

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