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The On Being Project

Turning to Sagacity During These Harrowing Days

Who can we turn to in times of urgency and conflict in the world? It’s women and men who examine the fullness of a life embedded in experience. My wish is that you find comfort in the following voices, and fresh ways to live forward given some of the crises we’re now facing…

(Leo Hidalgo / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Sharon Salzberg: The Kindness Rebellion

“Culture may tell us to scorn the coworker we think receives more validation from our boss than we do. But what would happen if we examined our scorn instead in order to learn something about our relationship to our coworker?”

I confess that I wear the label of “rugged individualist” all too proudly sometimes. Sharon reminds me that this outlook isn’t adequate — that being interdependent is a strength rather than weakness, that connection not only leads to our survival but to our prosperity too.

(Jane Rahman / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Parker Palmer: Mercy Now

“If I want to find words and actions that might be life-giving and serve the common good, I need to reclaim my true self and recover my true voice. So I’ve been embracing the silence that has descended upon me — experiencing it at moments as a kind of solidarity with those whose voices have been silenced forever.”

With the challenges of the past few weeks, Parker has turned to nature, to silence, and to music. He writes a lovely piece about the need for mercy and shares Mary Gauthier’s musical petition for mercy as a way to connect the beloved community.

Music: Shadow, Echo, Memory as a Salve for These Harrowing Times

“Discovering that a student of Hans Jørgen Jensen is on the roster of the cello competition in which you’re competing is a bit like finding out that Elon Musk just entered your seventh-grade science fair.”

When the world seems too much, it’s music and poetry I find myself turning to. My Virgil this week: the Northwestern University Cello Ensemble and poet Rita Dove. Thanks to WQXR, I’ve been streaming Shadow, Echo, Memory, a new album by the NU Cello Ensemble. It’s stunning. Doyle Armbrust describes it best:

“Echoes of water droplets striking a frozen terrain open the piece before a vapor of harmonics appear like sunlight through a crust of ice. …What steals the proverbial show on this record is the musical empathy and artistic symbiosis across the collective. … Thomalla’s often translucent music requires the steadiest of hands and most elegant of blends, and here the NU cellists fuse into a unblurred pane of sonic glass.”

Ieshia Evans stands across from law enforcement at a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 9, 2016. (Jonathan Bachman / Reuters / © All Rights Reserved)

Poetry: Riding the Bus with Rita Dove
Jonathan Bachman’s photo of Ieshia Evans, a nurse from Pennsylvania, standing on a Baton Rouge street while two police officers in riot gear run towards her, captured a moment that seemed incongruous to many. Her poise and composure were so calm, reassuring. Rita Dove’s charming book, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, possesses this same sense of self. And, in my mind, her poem, “Rosa” (listen to the poet’s reading), tethers Ms. Evans to Ms. Parks — both confronted with a choice, both choosing to take a stand:

How she sat there,
the time right inside a place
so wrong it was ready.

That trim name with
its dream of a bench
to rest on. Her sensible coat.

Doing nothing was the doing:
the clean flame of her gaze
carved by a camera flash.

How she stood up
when they bent down to retrieve
her purse. That courtesy.

A Dallas Police officer wears a black band on his badge outside of police department headquarters on July 12, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

What We Refuse, What We Believe

“We believe: Love always wins out over hatred. / We know: Knowledge is more divine than ignorance. / We trust: Light shall have victory over darkness.”

In the wake of the violence in suburban St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas, Omid Safi puts forth an impassioned call for the revolutionary work of love.

Passersby watch a Black Lives Matter protest in Times Square, New York City. (Yana Paskova / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Courtney Martin: Pulling Back the Veil, Together

“The conversations happening here are what America needs more of — challenging, real dialogue about our gaps in understanding.”

Courtney’s column from last week reached more than a half-million people and generated some intense, but respectful, conversation in the comments sections on the site and on our Facebook page. I’m thankful Courtney directly engaged in these discussions, and shepherds them forward with her latest commentary.

(Krisanne Johnson / The New York Times / © All Rights Reserved)

Frances Kissling: The Good in the Other, The Doubt in Ourselves

“You’ve got to be willing to risk in order to make change. You’ve got to approach differences with the notion that there is good in the other.”

Good will and understanding, rather than agreement or victory, can be a bridge across difference. Krista draws out Frances Kissling in our latest episode of Becoming Wise, one not to be missed!

Episcopal priest and author of “Running the Spiritual Path,” Roger Joslin. (Jason Ivester / © All Rights Reserved)

Roger Joslin: Preparing for Both the Run and the Prayer

“One day I came across an article about Thomas Merton in which [he] was quoted as saying that ‘Prayer is the desire to pray.’ And I didn’t really know about prayer as equating it with meditation.”

Roger Joslin is an Episcopal priest and the author of Running the Spiritual Path. For the Creating Our Own Lives podcast, he tells a story of encounter while running in New Mexico and how that experience helps him be a more mindful priest.

Albert Einstein in his office at Princeton. (Popperfoto / Getty Images / )

Albert Einstein: “The Negro Question”
After arriving in the U.S. in the 1930s, the iconic physicist witnessed the inequities and injustices done to black Americans. Read his little-known essay from 1946 about the “deeply entrenched evil” as he saw it then, and pervades America today:

“The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”

As ever, I welcome your feedback and your advice. Please feel free to contact me or anyone on our team with your thoughts at [email protected] or via Facebook or Twitter.
May the wind always be at your back.

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