Friday, April 4

Secular Sacred

That was the title of the massey lectures in 2006 (I think...maybe 2005), by Margaret Sommerville. They were great. I don't remember specifically what she had to say about that, but something along the lines of recognizing the sacred in everyday life - not necessarily things we ordinarily consider sacred in the organized religion sense of the term.

Anyway, I was reading a segment from the Blueprint, a student publication at Laurier, and that phrase - secular sacred - popped into my head. I thought I'd share it.

"Being happy can be hard work. When we make a commitment to social justice, to change, to awareness, it often stems from a simmering anger at the oppression, injustice, and pain that we see all around us. How many of us have read or seen something that opened up our eyes and come away feeling overwhelmed instead of empowered? How many times have we seen friends open their own eyes, only to shut them even tighter a moment later? Is it wrong to empathize like this? Of course not. Is it productive? Not in the long term.
Anger is strong. Hate is stronger. Embracing them as a motivation for social change is easy, and it's seductive. I've sat in many, many rooms being dominated by whoever had the biggest chip on their shoulder about an issue. More than once, I've done the dominating. It certainly gets things done, but it also lights a fire that burns people out incredibly quickly. This is no foundation for sustainable change. Continuous sadness destroys more than it saves. We certainly do our movements no favours by talking about guilt without talking about hope.
Buddha made famous a truism about human life - that the only things we can predict at the moment of birth are suffering and death. What does this mean? Perhaps that sorrow will find us, but we must go looking for joy. Thankfully, it's not hard to find. Indeed, I'd argue that it's impossible to miss. Look around for just one moment at the world we wake up to. It's filled with more beauty, more inspiration, more harmony than any of us can possibly wrap our minds around. By all rights, tears of elation should greatly outnumber tears of frustration.
Laugh. Sing. Smile. Learn. Struggle. Find your joy wherever you can. We must not be afraid of admitting that sometimes, progress actually gets made. When we go out into the world to try and change it, we try to give a voice to the voiceless. Making that a voice of hatred does them all a disservice. There's lots to do - let it be done with joy."

Josh Smyth, Editor-in-Chief, Blueprint Magazine

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