Tag Archives: compassion

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Fall Apart, Come Together

You cannot come together Until you fall apart, Cannot see the light Until you have been Blinded by the dark… Continue reading

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We Are All Human

…One mouth to speak
The hard-lived truth
We wish to share…
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Good News: Rebuilding Haiti, One Sale at a Time « Repeating Islands

Every now and then a company does something that I didn’t expect.  In this post on Repeating Islands I found something encouraging and heartening.  Macey’s, working with the non-profit group Fair Winds Trading, has found a way to help artists and craftspeople in Haiti.  They placed an order for goods to be sold at Christmas, to be supplied by artists and craftspeople in Haiti.  Then they took delivery of the articles produced, and paid those who produced them right away.

Simply by buying their goods and paying them up-front before the goods are sold Macey’s have done something very important for the Haitians whose work they have bought.  They have acknowledged the quality of those people’s work and the dignity of their lives as well as giving them a way to earn money now to meet their own needs.  This is a kind of help that benefits everyone involved.

You can read more about it on Repeating Islands:

Heart of Haiti: Rebuilding the Country, One Sale at a Time « Repeating Islands.

Thank you, Macey’s and Fair Winds Trading.

Water and Button Soup – a Passionate Plea

 

MMair, Bowls of Life

Reflections: Life

 

Our bodies, like our planet, are made up mostly of water.  We are able to live where we live because of the water this planet provides.  Historically, we have followed water, seeking it out to build our farms and cities and trade around.  The water that sustains us flows over and under the earth, moves between land and sea and sky, rises up as fogs and mist and clouds and spray, evaporates from the land and sea and falls to earth again gently or in torrents.  It knows no boundaries, has no nationality, and carries with it whatever falls into it, or is picked up by it as it flows or falls.

For much of my life I’ve been aware of the ebbs and flows of water, of the cycles of droughts and floods that are part of life in many places.  In Jamaica I remember my family listening to reports of the state of the reservoirs in drought years, hoping for rain before the water went down too far, and became dirty and scarce.  Later, my father, working at the time in South East Asia, would talk passionately about the need for clean drinking water and the difference it would make to the lives and health of many of the people there.   Back in Jamaica, years later, boiling the water that flowed from the taps for eight hours each day to make sure it was safe to drink was part of the morning routine in my parents’ house.

I’ve seen that access to water is a struggle for many – as a child growing up in Jamaica I used to see people gathered around standpipes as we drove through country villages, and women and girls carrying heavy containers of water home to cook and wash with.  Other times we would pass women beating clothes on the rocks of a river, or groups of adults being baptised in the same stream.  I lived in a house where water flowed from taps and through toilets, but I knew that others were not so lucky.

Now I live in a province where farming and fishing are still very important, and where the awareness of weather and water are part of the fabric of life.  It is a province with many lakes and rivers, where water flows abundantly.  Here, the problem with water is us, how we use it, and the waste and chemicals that flow into that water because of the things we do.  Or maybe the problem is that we assume that water, which gives us life, has a magical life of its own that protects it from the things we do.

Most of us know the story of Button Soup, or some very similar tale.  In it, a traveler convinces the people in a village to fill the pot of boiling water in which his stone button lies with all kinds of good food.  In the end, between them all, they make a wonderful soup which they share with each other, rejoicing in their good fortune.

It is a wonderful story, but if the villagers had thrown into their pot the kinds of things we are putting into our water today, they would have ended up with a chemical soup that left them ill, weak and dying.  Even if they had had enough water to make soup, they would have found that water poisoned.

There are two kinds of water scarcity.  An absolute, physical absence of water, which we cannot change except by bringing water in from other places.  And a scarcity of clean water – sometimes because floods overwhelm us and leave us with a mess of debris and waste that poison the water, at other times because we ourselves do not think about what we are putting into it.  Like the villagers who had to be shown that they were the ones who, together, had made that wonderful soup, we have difficulty understanding that we, together, can make the water we depend on nourishing – or dangerous.

But, like the villagers, we have the ability to change the things we do, so that we can live better.  Like them, we can work together to make our lives and our water much healthier, much better, much more nourishing.  Like them, we can find ways to share.

If we do not treat our water as lovingly as those villagers made their stone button soup, we risk losing the clean water we need to sustain life – our own lives and the lives of the plants and creatures we depend on.  And if we do not find good ways to share clean water, then those who need it will either die or find their own way to it.

Clean water equals life; let’s work toward clean, life-sustaining water for all.  However and wherever we can.

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Some of the things we can do:

  • keep garbage out of our waterways
  • work to prevent them from becoming polluted with chemical, human and farm waste, including taking care of how we dispose of our own waste
  • take care to avoid using poisons that spread into them
  • use our water wisely and not too wastefully
  • learn about the ebbs and flows of our local waterways, so that we do not build or develop where floods are likely to destroy our work, or our work is likely to destroy the water and the life that depends on it – which includes our own.

Today is Blog Action Day.  I learned about it from Cory Huff of Abundant Artist, who invited the Abundant Artist community to write about the theme this year – water (read what he proposed by clicking here).  Read what other people have written about water by clicking here.

Thank You, Claudia Bernardi!

I set out to write a quite different post.  I was looking at an article about Claudia Bernardi, one member of that remarkable band of artists who give generously of their talents to help others work through pain and come to terms with difficult and dangerous lives.  I was thinking about her work, and what I wanted to say about it.

Then it occurred to me that what I was really thinking about as I read about her work was how thankful I was that she was there in El Salvador, using her Walls of Hope project to give what help she could.

So today I want to say thank you to Claudia Bernardi and all the others like her, to those whose love and compassion pushes them find a way to use their skills to help others find a voice, find hope, find a way forward.

Thank you.

*****

And here is the article I was reading:

Crista Cloutier: Walls of Hope.

To find out more about Walls of Hope, click here.  The website will open in a new window.

What I was reading about:  Claudia Bernardi uses art, compassion and wisdom to help people who have been victims of violence and discrimination reveal their stories and start on the road to healing.

How Buying Beautiful Things Can Help a Whole Community

When I started to work on developing my blog, I thought about all the things that interest me.  There are far too many.  So I whittled them down to the things that I thought were the most important, the things I felt most passionate about.  One of the those is the way people combine their imaginations with the tools they have around them to create unique art and objects.  Then they find a way to sell those creations, and use the money earned to support themselves and their communities.

Sometimes they are taken advantage of; but other times their efforts spur others into helping them.  I remember meeting the owner of a gallery in Bermuda who worked with some of the Shona master carvers from Zimbabwe.  In his words and his eyes you could feel and see how much he loved the sculpture they created and how much he cared for and respected the artists he worked with.

He cared enough to make sure they were well paid, had what they needed to do their work and to help them find commissions.  He was the kind of person I had in mind when I created my Arts For Life page.  There I wanted to list the kinds of people or groups whose purpose was to make strong and useful links between art and artists in communities that need support and people who want to support them.  The page has languished, but the interest remains strong.

As in life, so in art – supporting those who produce  by making sure they are paid fairly helps to create and sustain strong communities.  And the best part about it is, you can create a little bit of beauty in someone else’s life while buying something beautiful to cheer your own.  I hope you will.

And if you know of other groups that I should include on this page, please let me know!

Hatred Burns

Inside me an image is burning.

Today we heard news that a cross was burned on a lawn in Nova Scotia.  A bi-racial couple lived in the house .  The gesture was aimed at them.  Not at who they are as people – its doubtful that the burners and yellers care to know who they really are – but at what they are in someone else’s mind.  It seems that someone hates the idea of them, and they are using a powerful symbol to express how they feel.

What could cause such hatred?  What allow it to be expressed?

Whenever and wherever hatred is spoken, against any person or any group, it spreads like poison through the world we live in, and provides fodder and fuel for the ignorant and angry .  And as it does so it builds division and fear – in both the haters and the hated.  Hatred, as we have seen over and over again, has the ability to tear our world apart.

For some, it has this advantage.  Hatred is lazy – it is much easier to hate than to think.  Much easier to feel and act on that one sensation than learn to live with the complexity of life.  The hater can simply take whole groups of people, lump them together as one, and focus all their anger and contempt on them.

Our leaders have a role to play.  When they choose to act in hateful ways, when they make personal attacks or speak disdainfully of whole groups of people, that gives others permission to think the same way, and to express such hateful thoughts loudly and proudly.  Those who are leaders set the tone for those inclined to follow; and there will, as we can see, always be those that follow.   Following too is easier.

Among those who feel hatred there will be some who take the next logical step.  Thinking that others find their feelings acceptable and reasonable, they will move from hateful words to hateful action.  And therein lies the greatest danger, the one that faces us all.

Are those leaders who show and encourage contempt responsible for these kinds of actions, actions based on the perception that such contempt is normal, and hateful expressions correct?

It is something I am thinking about.

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Pity Helps; Compassion Builds

Let’s hope that as pity fades, compassion will grow, and Haiti will be able to rebuild using our help but her own people’s strengths and skills. Continue reading