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As the wreckage of Oklahoma's tornado confronts us with our own vulnerability, let us affirm the Biblical wisdom that God is not in the wind or the storm, but in the countless responses of rescue, caring, and goodness. We are God's eyes: to witness, to cry, to see. We are God's hands: to salvage, to embrace, to redeem and rebuild. May God's persistent, resilient love be visible through our renewed efforts of prayer, voluntarism, and support for the victims of this eruption of nature's power.
In a better world, Phil Hardberger's decision might not have seemed extraordinary.
Four days after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans and left hundreds of thousands of people struggling to escape, San Antonio's then-mayor announced on CNN that the city would open its arms and its pocketbook to anyone who needed help.
While other cities were closing their doors and nobody knew how San Antonio would fund the effort or absorb a growing mass of evacuees, Hardberger faced questions about logistics with answers from the heart.
“We want to give them back their dignity and put some stability in their life. And whatever we need to do, we're going to do,” Hardberger said. “We're going to go ahead and write whatever checks need to be written right now to take care of these people and let them know that people in San Antonio love them.”
It was a flash of humanity amid the ugliness and despair of the disaster. It also was a defining moment for Hardberger's administration, a decision that would capture national recognition, become a source of local pride and forever burnish the city's social and cultural landscape.
Feeling foot-loose and frisky, a feather-brained fellow forced his fond father to fork over the farthings. He flew far to foreign fields and frittered his fortune, feasting fabulously with faithless friends.
Finally facing famine and fleeced by his fellows-in-folly, he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farmyard. Fairly famishing, he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from the fodder fragments. “Fooey, my father’s flunkies fare far fancier,” the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, frankly facing facts.
Frustrated by failure and filled with foreboding, he fled forthwith to his family. Falling at his father’s feet, he floundered forlornly, “Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favor. . . .” But the faithful father, forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch forth the finest fatling and fixed a feast.
The fugitive’s faultfinding frater frowned on the fickle forgiveness of former folderol. His fury flashed—but fussing was futile. The far-sighted father figured, “Such filial fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivity—for the fugitive is found! Unfurl the flags! With fanfares flaring, let fun and frolic freely flow. Former failure is forgotten, folly forsaken. Forgiveness forms the foundation for future fortitude.”___________________
Thanks to the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue at the Turkish Raindrop House for giving San Antonio CompassionNET time during their program of Compassion in the Holy Books to introduce the Charter for Compassion and give the participants the opportunity to sign the 3'x6' vinyl banner. We were especially excited to obtain the signature of Beytullah Solak, whose mother lives in Gaziantep, Turkey -- the first predominantly Muslim country to be recognized as a Compassionate City! Photograph by Chuck Gibbons.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.Some asked for the reference: “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, ” Commencement Address for Oberlin College By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., June 1965, Oberlin Ohio
I can never be what I ought to be
until you are what you ought to be.
This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise. Marian Anderson
"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." Paulo Freire
"If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." Archbishop Desmond Tutu
"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." Elie Wiesel
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Elie Wiesel
“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings.” Helen Keller
“Christians have no business thinking that the good life consists mainly in not doing bad things. We have no business thinking that to do evil in this world you have to be a Bengal tiger, when, in fact, it is enough to be a tame tabby—a nice person but not a good one. In short, Pentecost makes it clear that nothing is so fatal to Christianity as indifference. ” William Sloane Coffin Jr., Living The Truth In A World Of Illusions
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. . . . This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
It works for all kinds of crises: medical, legal, financial, romantic, even existential. She calls it the Ring Theory.
Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie's aneurysm, that's Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie's aneurysm, that was Katie's husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. One of Susan's patients found it useful to tape it to her refrigerator.
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.
When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it. Read the whole article here.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”
“Of course I can,” said the father.
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look
Long ago in a small, far away village, there was place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the House, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often.”
In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again.”
The streetlight turned yellow, so he stopped his car at the crosswalk instead of accelerating through the intersection to beat the red light. The woman who was driving behind him got really angry and started honking her horn. She was extremely mad that she missed her chance to cross the intersection behind him (and because stopping the car made everything on her lap drop to the floor: cell phone, makeup, and half a sandwich).
She was still in the middle of yelling and cussing at the man in front of her when she heard a tap on her window and looked up to see the face of a very serious police officer. He ordered her to exit the vehicle with her hands up and took her down to the police station to be searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, she was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal belongings. "I'm very sorry for this mistake. When I pulled up behind your car, you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing up a storm. But it didn't make sense... You have the 'What Would Jesus Do' license plate frame on the car, the 'Namaste' decal on the back window, and the 'Coexist' bumper sticker, so I figured you had stolen the car. My Bad!"
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ''UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?'''UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are"
The holy Buddha was sitting on the side of the road when a handsome young soldier walked by and seeing him said “you look like a pig." The Buddha replied “and you look like a god." The soldier taken aback asked him what he meant be that. The Buddha replied that he sits all day contemplating god and so that is who he sees. “You, my friend, must be contemplating other things."