Don't Look Away

Don't Look Away

Walking in Toronto, I often feel as if I am being smacked in the face with the stark reality of what inequity looks like in living, breathing practice. From the homeless teenager weeping into her knees while having a panic attack on the corner of Yonge/College, to the telltale empty section of an otherwise crowded subway car revealing a person wrapped in stained shopping bags, unwashed layers of ill-fitting clothes and ulcerated, oozing feet- I have never gotten used to the reality of existing in a world where there is so much disparity between those who have, and those who do not.

I am having an impossible time reconciling how life carries on status quo in the face of explicit human suffering… because suffering does not exist in a vacuum. It never has. Its shockwaves reverberate across the earth and through generations. How can our country turn its face away from the deliberate erasure of Palestinian children, women and men through indiscriminate bombing, bloodshed, starvation, decimated hospitals, places of worship, culture and education? I cannot accept the complicity of our elected leaders in these atrocities and other failures- how we have built societies where certain groups of people are treated as if they are disposable... It breaks my heart… and I often feel so powerless in the face of it all.

I have been reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s reflections in his book, The Sun My Heart. In it, he tells the story of a woman who says to her son, “Whenever you miss me, look into your hand, my child. You will see me immediately.”

He goes on to explain how the act of looking deeply at our hands speaks of our existence within the beginning-less and end-less continuum of time and describes how inextricably connected we are to each other and the universe around us.

In the face of the extraordinary suffering we are bearing witness to in real-time, let your eyes rest on your hands. Feel everything that makes us human and be moved to action in whatever capacity you have. No act in service of our shared humanity can be too small. We must demand better from those who claim to represent us.

Who are we if we cannot lift each other up?

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