The Right to Remain Silent: A Compassionate Writer’s Manifesto

October 22, 2015 - I've been thinking lately about spending less time on Facebook. Not that I don’t like my friends, but that I don’t like hearing quite so much about all that is dangerous or wrong in the world.

This isn’t new with me. It started 30 years ago when I stopped listening to the radio, then the TV news. Over the last few years, I’ve stopped reading national print news, and last year I even canceled our local, community paper.

It’s not that I want to stick my head in the sand. I am an activist in my own right. In the ’80′s, for example, I marched frequently for the ERA in Wyoming and Colorado. (That’s the Equal Rights Amendment, for those of you who have arrived on the planet more recently than I have. Its purpose was to specifically include women as citizens and human beings in the U.S. Constitution. It never passed, but it isn’t dead either, by the way, just sitting a closet awaiting final ratification to fall from a spider’s web or something.)

No, it’s just that I know fear and reactivity to be contagious, and I don’t want to “catch” itanymore. Since we all seem to be held under the ancient “Chinese” curse, “May you live in interesting times,” I seem to have no trouble keeping up with what’s wrong in the world, media or not. The day I learned about GMO foods was like a tipping point for me. I realized that there was so much beyond  my control in the world – even the integrity of our food supply – that the only thing to do, really, was to laugh.

The Tibetan Buddhists take this same kind of realization to a much, much higher level:

“Since things neither exist nor do not exist, are neither real nor unreal, are utterly beyond adopting or rejecting – one might as well burst out laughing!”

(Nyingmapa Master – Longchenpa Rabjampa – C14th)

This is far different from abdicating our place in the world. It is simply a truth that lets us set aside our own reactivity and, instead, focus on our power and purpose for being in such a world.

We are social animals, we humans, and if fear is contagious, so is measured response, compassion, integrity, generosity, and service.

Those of us who are following a spiritual path and are also drawn to writing have a unique contribution to make in a time when “new medicine” is required. I believe it is not to amplify fear, or remain silent, but to teach and model, through our writing, the antidote to fear. We are each given, through our spiritual connections, ways of being that enhance health, wholeness, joy, and productivity for us. We each have our own twist that will appeal to different people and inspire them to perhaps look at their own lives in a slightly different way. The more people read, hear, and talk about these experiences of hope, integrity, and positive results, the more “catching” our sense of compassion and responsibility as a society will be. The more each of us acts from these values, the more impact those actions will have on the powers that be.

I watch my husband, an extremely generous and compassionate person, freely and easily give his time to help others. He has a myriad of skills to offer and which I tried, with difficulty at first, to emulate. I couldn’t understand why I found it all so hard until one day it came to me – we are each called to give that which we take joy in giving. I stopped trying to give in the way he was, and instead I started to give from the energy and skills I truly love to share. Now it is free and easy for me, too.

If you are a writer on a spiritual path, and you wish to give to the world, consider in what way writing may be part of your life purpose. Words have power. Words heal. Words inspire and translate themselves into actions, small and large, in the world.

I believe those of us who are called to write have a responsibility to use our skill to help the world evolve, bit by bit, into the compassionate and joyful place in which we would like to live. Let courage, compassion, and personal responsibility go viral instead of fear. Let laughter go viral in the face of uncertainty.

If we have the power to do this, do we really have the right to remain silent?

What healing story do you have to share today? That, to me, is what is worth reading on Facebook – and everywhere else we can find it in our lives.