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This past week has been very busy and next week will get even more hectic as i an many others begin to converge in the Gulf South for a week of action and events that aim to remember and honor the lives of those lost in Hurricane Katrina - and the related struggles before and after - and celebrate those who made it through.
Making it through. Surviving.
We are in a moment characterized by fights for survival - which we know to be not quite enough to change the conditions of our lives - coupled with visions and a thrust for something different; a society that is more just, better than what we now have. Around the country efforts are happening on multiple levels simultaneously, though not yet connected in ways that carry the kind of momentum needed to really turn the tide. But that is merely a matter of time.
I recently read a blog post by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute in which she articulated some of the seemingly contradictory internal responses, thoughts, reflections she felt in the midst of so much good and bad that is happening in the world. Her post, coupled with all the information overload, tragedy and work over the past week and before inspired me to pull out a book that a small team of us published last year and re-read to center myself. And to remind myself that this too shall pass. In the midst of chaos and upheaval, when people are overwhelmed or just dealing with a lot at one time, many turn to religion or some sort of moral system for grounding and/or to help them navigate the storms, seeking the best or appropriate path forward. So much of what we seek outside ourselves already resides within; we just have to discover it. And it is helpful to remember that the only constant in the universe is change. The economic system under which we live for example - the cause of extreme wealth for a few at the expense of the majority of the world's population and the health of the earth - was born only a couple of hundred years ago and will at some point give way to something else.
So i leave you with a reminder to appreciate cycles, our role in shaping them and that each of us has the tools within ourselves to find balance, clarity and direction in the midst of the storm.
Book: Maat: Guiding Principles of Moral Living
Chapter: Introduction, p. 187-188
We all seek guidance in one way or another from others on how to handle various situations and make decisions. When questions of morality are involved - right and wrong, good and bad - people are often directed to sources outside themselves. Over 6,000 years ago Kmt recognized that most of what we need to get through life with purpose and meaning already exists within our hearts; we simply have to learn basic moral principles and how to honestly listen to ourselves. And while there are so many things that are out of our hands, there is a lot that we control; namely who we choose to become and how we respond to situations.
For thousands of seasons indigenous African populations developed life, culture, language, education, science, morality, government and a system of justice reflective of a high level of moral integrity. Kmt, an indigenous African civilization, covered the longest time span of any civilization known to history...
The Ancients developed a moral system that reflected a deep understanding of the cycle of life and the interconnectedness of all things. Through keen observation and study of various plants, for example, the ancient Kmtians gained an appreciation of the life cycle: A seek grows and develops in a proper environment and a certain point dies; however in the process of dying new seeds are produced, which lay the foundation for the continuation of the plant's life. Their varied experiences led them to continue observing, studying, understanding, and learning their environment which in turn gave rise to their attempts to both adapt to and change elements of their environment.
Their system of morality naturally stemmed from an understanding of and appreciation for life and the cycle it undergoes; as something is born, so it does; as it is creates, it is destroyed; as it comes into being, it goes out of existence. During ht ecourse of life all phenomena leave an imprint, which is preserved in later generations. The quality of each imprent reflects the moment in history that produced it (if prevailing conditions promoted its success) and its determined effort to ensure its reproduction on a higher level (preserved in later generations). In every area, our ancients left solid lessons to live by. We should return to our own source. Start anew. Be born again.