Fueled By Outrage:
Turning Swords Into Compassionate Action
I don’t know where to begin. Shall I start With Michelle
Obama’s speech, skillfully channeling her profound hurt and anger, her words redolent
of truth, denouncing Trump and de-normalizing his hate toward women?
Conservative Marybeth Glenn forsaking Trump because of his misogyny and sharply
challenging her fellow conservatives to join her? Or Robert De Niro’s unusual
(for him) public proclamation and take-down of Trump? Let’s not forget the release
of “13th,” Ava DuVernay’s scorching, painful, brilliant, documentary that
connects the historical dots of endemic racial injustice, inequality, and
violence in our country. And Women’s Boat to Gaza, 13 activists bringing world
attention and supplies to the isolated and suffocating occupied territory,
spearheaded by a retired U.S. Army colonel and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient? So
inspiring are the widening non-violent actions against oil pipelines in the
American West by Native and non-native peoples. This week, it’s been people doing
their level-headed best to stand for our collective humanity, to advocate, to
One thread that runs through it all is channeling our outrage.
That we hurt demonstrates we are human. That we react emotionally also conveys our
common instincts. But to be hurt and not react blindly, to let the traumatic
impacts settle and sink deeply into our roots of peace, that takes doing. Yet
we are seeing more and more people doing just this. Bravo!
I still hear Sister Chan Khong, lifetime collaborator of Thich Nhat Hanh, at Deep Streams Zen Institute’s recent program, “Being Peace In Divisive Times.” She focused on anger, and conveyed how to face it without suppressing, ignoring, or pretending it is not there. In word, song, and presence, she showed us how to stop — resisting the urge to react impulsively. Coming home, grounding ourselves in focused,
kindly attentiveness: Being peace. Responses then emerge as skillful action,
Many of us are looking for ways to create “safe zones,” as much inside ourselves as with
others, so that we stay “fit for duty” as agents of transformation, what Buddhists call
Bodhisattvas. At the moment of most extreme strain, when reactivity and outrage is at its highest, when it feels like there is no safe place and despair and hopelessness prevail, we can turn
to our deep resources— inside us and with and for our communities— to create a
safe place to think, feel, and be. We can come home to our collective humanity and
respond in accord.