“Everyone in the ballroom tonight will
be my special guest.”
How then would you treat them when you arrived?
And Hafiz knows that there is no one in
this world who is not standing upon
His jeweled dance floor.
I love this poem by Hafiz, the Sufi poet. It is an invitation for us to believe that each and every person that we meet is worthy – of our respect and caring. And, why would we want to feel any other way?
But, the complexity and enormity of our world is the challenge.
Each day we become aware of still another problem that needs our attention. And, how can one person pay attention to so many issues?
And so we look at people and we do not see the sanctity in each person’s life. I do it all the time – in spite of my own best intentions.
The result of this lack of respect and connection with others is sometimes referred to as “throwaway people.”
This is evident when we:
- allow people to be thrown in jail for years for minor infractions, or because they just don’t have the bail money;
- permit the schools in our city to fail and not provide needed services and a decent education for our children;
- tolerate that 40% of the children in my city – Philadelphia – go to bed hungry at night;
Although we might think that these things are happening to others, they are in fact hurting our own selves; as we fracture the web of connection that binds us all together – the web that provides for a just society in which we all feel safe and nurtured.
We are Inter-beings
Thich Nhat Hanh has coined the word “interbeing” to describe the realization that there is no independent self separate from others. He illustrates this by saying:
Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. Therefore, the cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-be.
It is a big task to re-imagine that web of connection – which we might have known at another time in our life. Perhaps when we were younger; or, when we lived in a smaller town or community; or when we were not subjected to news on a 24/7 basis.
Seeing with new eyes enables us to create the future that we desire. Look for that web wherever you go. When there is a smile, smile back. When someone asks for a bit of help – respond and notice what occurs. When you breath out – notice who or what is breathing in.
Nurture and care for the precious web of our inter-being – and together we can create the world that our hearts know is possible. AH! Know from your heart, and act from your heart mind! What a beautiful world this could be!