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Sunday, June 21, 2009

And the rain turned red

We have been waking to daily rain on the east coast of America for what seems like the entire spring season. It’s been beyond obnoxious and inconvenient! Talking about rain, looking at it rain, driving in the rain, walking the dog in the rain…it has taken over my mind and spread negative energy throughout daily life. And as usual, I decide to analyze all this rain and what it means to us. And there it is, right in front of my face…its raining over the social networking web sites too. Streams and gobs of video and raw, bone-chilling red rain…pouring from the bodies of our fellow men and women in Iran. There is chaos in the streets because the people believe there has been ballot fraud. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of the elections. But the people don’t believe it was a fair election. Khomenei declared Ahmadinejad a “divine assessment,” and his election is “divinely sanctioned.” The Iranian people say NO to this declaration. And they are saying no by opening the skies and calling on the red rain to speak for them. Moussavi leads the way telling the people they have a duty to keep the hope alive, and he is “ready for martyrdom” and “continue the protest.” This needs to be heard by the world. I hear it, and I remember American history and how our forefathers fought for our freedom. Dorothy Thompson said, “When liberty is taken away by force, it can be restored by force.” And Clarence Darrow said, “You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can only be free if I am free.” And so I embrace the rain. I respect and support what the rain represents. And although the rain falling in America is crystal clear now, it once was red. It once was as bright red as the rain falling in Iran now. We must support the fight of our fellow freedom-seekers. Twitter was beyond crowded by the video of Neda, a young Iranian woman who died a bloody death in the street. She was a young woman who showed all of us the power of the red rain. As video streamed across twitter, we all watched as the blood came from her head and body, watched people trying to save her body, but what they were trying to save was their freedom. And her blood is our freedom. And it covered the streets, just like the rain. And now I walk in the rain without an umbrella. Because I am free. I hope that the Iranian people will soon walk in the rain without an umbrella. Ferdowsi said, “And the blood of brave men and women was shed like unto the shedding of rain from a black cloud.” The world is watching it rain. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “The best thing one can do when its raining is to let it rain.”

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We Should Suffer

In my profession I attempt to ease personal suffering. It is a daunting and often unsuccessful endeavor. I accept the burden of empathy and willingly dole it out on a daily basis. And so I often suffer with you as you tell me about your physical and mental pain. To help you and myself, we should take a look at the concept of suffering. There are many philosophical and religious approaches to the mystical experience of suffering. Some religions explain suffering as a test, a test of piety and if you maintain faith, you will eventually be rewarded. Scientists say that suffering is an evolutionary mechanism. We’ve all heard of “survival of the fittest” right? In other words, if you can avoid or overcome physical and mental suffering, you will survive. Then there’s the Buddhist philosophy that says suffering can be surpassed if we recognize the source (our attachments and desires) and then meditate to achieve a desire-less state. How hard is that?! In our society most of us are always trying to avoid suffering. Think about the debate over stem cell research and abortion. Both topics evoke extreme reaction; a reaction to the perception of human suffering is what it’s really about. Thomas Merton, a religious monk said this, “The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” I can relate to that…it can be a vicious cycle that leads to paralysis! So what do we do with our suffering? I’m thinking we absolutely can’t live without embracing our suffering because it always seems “worth it” to have suffered. Think of all the beautiful music and artwork that has been the result of suffering. Suffering a broken heart, suffering the death of a child, suffering severe illness, suffering poverty, suffering from hunger…all this suffering has led to people helping each other, and to significant advances in making things better for future people. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “Human progress is neither automatic or inevitable…every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” And that’s why I willingly journey with you through your suffering. Because together we can explore what goodness will come from it, and accept it, embrace it, and use it in a positive manner. If we can’t suffer, we will never experience the overwhelming tears of joy when there is triumph. I just can’t live without sappy love songs or movies about personal triumphs over extreme misery…can you?