You can’t change the world, but you can make it a better place. You can be healthy, loving, compassionate, and sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. You can have daily life practices that bring small happinesses. You can you do your best to consciously live without perpetrating violence. You can bring comfort and love to the people around you. You can listen and hold yourself accountable. You can trace your unconsidered beliefs and value judgments and figure out if they really serve the person you are today. You can learn when and how to fight. And you can protect your izzat and other people’s too.
If you think of yourself as a plant, all of these things make you strong and help you to thrive. When you’re a plant, you can’t do anything about storms, freezes and blights. All you can do is make yourself strong so that in the event that you are suddenly at the mercy of something bigger than you, well, hopefully the strength you have cultivated in yourself and your life is enough to see you through.
All this has a lot to do with love, and the dictionary kind.
There are many important loves in this life. There is the love between friends. Sexual love should never usurp friend love. But there are lots of other loves around us, some we may or may not see. Your neighbors benefit from your love. Nothing’s stopping you from cooking up a double recipe of lasagna and taking it over to one of your neighbors once in a while. The kids running around the neighborhood sure could use a bowl of that watermelon you just cut up, leaving plenty for you and your family. Perfect strangers enjoy your love when you help them load their groceries in the rain, when you let them ahead of you into your lane, when you stop for them so they can cross the street. Lordisa, the birds, squirrels, raccoons, deer and bees love you when you hook them up with sustenance. People bitch about raccoons, but did you know they love cat and dog food a big bag of cheap pet food will keep the raccoons out of your space and away from your pets better than any gun or trap. In love, though, that’s not your motivation for feeding them. In love, you feed the raccoons because you honestly want what’s best for them.
Call this a karmic investment, if you wish. This still traces back to selfish motivations, but if you think of loving the people and the world around you as a way of protecting yourself against things that are bigger than you, it would suffice. I like to think of loving the world as putting into and out of myself exact reflections of the world I want to live in.
And it makes me happy to know that the hummingbirds and crows are fed and that the kids are laughing with watermelon juice running down their sticky faces and arms.
There are so many bigger realities that bring pain and anger that I’ve learned to seek out small joys every day. It is one of the greatest forms of self-defense I know.
rose: love in violent times (2010)
chapter 7, defending the home front.
p. 219 – 220