Be the Change…

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Today I write with recent tragedies that  have occurred in the United States on my mind.  It makes me feel sadness to see how so much fear, hate and anger does nothing but produce more of the same…  Very very valid feelings, but very destructive and counter-productive at the same time…

If I had the perfect solution I’d share it in an instant but I don’t.  The situation appears to be anything but simple.  But I cannot forget the progress that men like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela have accomplished through peaceful protest.  Hopefully more people will remember them and follow their lead…  and that most definitely includes the police too…

I’d like to share an excerpt from the book A Lamp in the Darkness by Jack Kornfield.  It’s a very touching and true story that I think is particularly fitting at this point in time as it reminds everyone as Frankl said, everything can be taken from you but your freedom to choose how you will respond.

“One young boy, just fourteen years old, wanted to become part of an inner city gang.  In order to initiate himself into the gang, he went out and shot another teenager his own age.  He was subsequently caught and arrested for murder and, after a time, was brought to trial.  He was convicted and just before he was taken off to prison, the mother of the young man who’d been murdered stood up in the courtroom, looked him square in the eye, and said, “I’m gonna kill you.” And then he was led off in handcuffs.

While he was incarcerated, the mother of the young man who had been killed came to visit him.  He was shocked and surprised.  During her first visit she talked to him for a little while, and later she came back and brought him some things he needed – a little money to buy things in prison, some writing materials – and began to visit him regularly.  And over the next three or four years, as he served his sentence, she would come visit him regularly.

When the time came to be released, she asked him what he planned on doing when he got out of jail.  He had no idea.  “Where are you going to work?”  she asked him.  He didn’t know.  So she told him, “I’ve got a friend who has a little business – maybe you could get a job there.”  And then she asked, “Where are you gonna live?” And he said, “I don’t know.  I didn’t have much of a family even before I came in here.”  And she said, “Well, you can come and stay with me.  I’ve got a spare room.”  And so the young man moved into her home and began to work at the job that she had found for him.

After about six months, she called him into the living room, sat him down, and said,”I need to talk to you.”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  She looked at him and said, “Remember that day in court when you were convicted of murdering my only child?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  She said, “Remember I stood up and I said, ‘I’m going to kill you’?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  “Well, I have.  I set about changing you.  I came to visit you over and over and brought you things, and made friends with you.  And when you got out I took care of you and got you a job and a place to live, because I didn’t want the kind of boy who could coldly murder my son to still be alive on this Earth.  And I’ve done it.  You’re not that boy anymore.  But now I have no son and I’ve got no one and here you are and I wonder if you’d stay with me and live with me for a time.  I can finish raising you as my son and I’d like to adopt you if you’d let me.”  And she became the mother of her son’s killer, the mother he never had.”

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

Jean -Paul Sartre

Keep well,  Susan

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