Song for the Season and our Sadness

December 25, 2012
I originally sent this letter and song via email last week and am re-posting it here by request. Love and light to all of you…Charity

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear friends,

My heart goes out to all of you as we as a nation attempt to integrate and mourn the tragic events in Connecticut. As parents, the deepest fear we all carry is that of losing a child. There is no greater imaginable horror, and we literally don’t know how we would survive it.

We may attempt to ameliorate our grief with whispers and prayers of relief that it was not our family that was touched by this violence. But if we look deeply, we will be forced to remember that it IS our family, that these ARE our children. And that all the people who die in crossfire or in the line of duty every day are our children. And that the 1 in 4 American children that go to bed hungry every single night are our children. And that the over 30,000 children who die from starvation each day on our planet are our children, too.

History shows us that human beings have always had the capacity to behave violently, destructively and selfishly. No news there. But there are so many of us now, and our weapons are so destructive, our money so worshiped, our media so dependent on violence for effect, and our people so unhappy and unhealthy and uncared for, that we are literally at the tipping point for how much brutality the planet can sustain. We are not “getting away with” this bad behavior anymore. It is coming home to roost.

But history also shows us that human beings have a huge capacity for compassion. So when — and more importantly how — are we going to put an end, once and for all, to this insane march toward violence and self-destruction? When and how will we institute sensible gun control laws? When and how will we create systems and safety nets for identifying and adequately serving those among us who are troubled, isolated, and/or mentally ill and desperately in need of our help? When and how will we call the media and entertainment industries to task for their excessive pushing and selling of violence to young children? When and how will we stop ignoring those who suffer worldwide, often at the hand of our great nation? When will we stop creating the conditions where a tragedy like Sandy Hook is even imaginable, let alone a semi-regular occurrence? Do we have the power, individually and collectively, to change things?

These are questions worth stopping for a moment to consider in the cracks of planning for the holidays, caring for our children, working to survive, and otherwise running around like the crazy, over-scheduled and over-stimulated people we have become, despite our often Herculean efforts to simplify. I know it feels like we don’t have the time, but there’s another clock ticking and the alarm, when it goes off, will be the rudest wake-up call conceivable.

I questioned moving forward with our December song release in the midst of all this, until I received an email from a mom sharing with me her experience with her child falling asleep to Lovingkindness while she listened from the other room in the midst of her pain, paralysis, fear and confusion regarding Friday’s tragedy. She reminded me that music “has the power to help heal our broken hearts.” So here is some music for you. I hope it helps heal your broken heart, or at least helps you cry and release some of the grief inside. Or helps you remember some joyful memories from your childhood, thus filling your heart with some much-needed happiness and love in this moment. And I hope it helps you remember to hold ALL our children close.

The song is called The Light. The theme is that light itself (whether in the form of twinkly tree lights, flickering candle-fire, the sun or stars) is central to every culture’s winter holiday. And it universally symbolizes purity, a hope for peace, a desire for awakening and transformation, and the amazing opportunity we’re given to recognize the basic human goodness in one another — the opportunity to lay down our fear, judgement, and illusion of separation and come together, in love, as one. For deep down, everyone wants to love and be loved. The experience of sharing love brings us our greatest joy, and the fear of separation from love is the source of our deepest pain. This truth is at the heart of all that is both tragic and transformative about humanity. And it carries within it the path to a peaceful world.

This message takes on another dimension in the wake of last week’s tragedy. And, at least for me, it takes on another level of insistence. If not now, when? Perhaps you will find some hope in these words, or some ideas about how you can address this difficult stuff with your kids or even what you can do to help as an individual or community. Please let me know what you come up with, for I, too, am paralyzed with the enormity of the challenge facing us. We need each other now more than ever. Thank you for being here.

Peace be with you this season and always. I love you.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

~ Howard Zinn

The Light That Could Have Saved The World

December 21, 2012

I decided that the day the world is supposed to end is as fine a day as any to start the blog I’ve been meaning to start for several years. Hello, everyone. It’s good to see you here.

There are lots of theories floating around as to the significance of this day, 12/21/2012 — everything from Armageddon to Enlightenment. Clearly we are a species and planet on the brink of some transformation, but in which direction are the winds of change blowing?

Over the last century, acts of hatred and destruction seem to have grown exponentially. These events and their energy stick in our minds and terrify, paralyze and shame us so deeply we begin to believe we stand powerless in their wake. Apathy, cynicism, denial and the many and varied ways we have invented to numb ourselves often follow. We succumb to the dark side, for inaction in the face of violence is unarguably a form of violence itself.

But I believe in my heart that acts of compassion, wisdom and kindness have been increasing just as dramatically. There is a spiritual awakening occurring around the world — certainly in the hearts of individuals, and sometimes in communities and even nations. There is a “return to love”, as Marianne Williamson would say, like we have never seen — proof that something in us knows what to do.

We are very powerful, it turns out, and the planet reached its current state on our watch and as consequence of our choices. Yes, OURS. And because of the very real and imminent threats to our planet and all life due to climate change, cruelty and greed, we need to wake up NOW and use our immense strength and intention to turn the tides. We need to grow compassion and wisdom and kindness faster than all that other stuff. We need to love and work for peace in all its interpretations, just — as Pema Chodron has said — “as if our hair were on fire”. For it might as well be at this point.

So let this be the day, let this be the moment, that we begin the end of a world that values money over life, acquisition over benevolence, tyranny over collaboration, and fear over love. Let us believe that we are in charge, that we are powerful. And let us remember that there is no end to love, and only love is real. We can do this.

On that note, here is a poem for you, from my deepest heart. It is certainly a sad poem, for a sad time. But if you suspend disbelief, and invite in the magical idea that it’s never too late to shift things IN THIS MOMENT, never too late to make living amends, never too late to see what is right here in front of us, never too late to change, never too late for a miracle, and never, never too late to love, you might also hear a message of joy and hope, and maybe even some solutions (no matter how micro) for beginning to create a world worthy and reflective of our children, and of the basic human goodness deep inside everyone’s hearts.

Let me say it one more time: It is NEVER too late to love. I love you.


how are we to know upon
what shores the battle next will rage
surely all comes home the same
your shore is my shore, here or there

he loses a limb
you lose your job
she loses a child
they lose their source of clean water
a nation loses itself
we all lose our home
and our hearts break, and bleed

we have almost out-bred
even joy –
an evolutionary experiment
gone awry
and one which will appropriately
take care of itself
if allowed to continue

had we an accurate perspective on time
we might wink and nod
at the insignificance
of this error of biology
and how we could all be wiped away –
and the garden with us –
in a relative millisecond
the garden starting over
in one form or another
growing anew and mysterious and magnificent
and perhaps even learning something
from its mistakes

but we are in the meantime
and the garden waits, frozen
for us to make a choice

as in a dream
we begin to strain
with every muscle and heart fiber
a desperate devotion calling us
to turn this impossibly heavy ship
away from the sharp sudden edge
of our beloved earth

as in a dream
it feels too slow
and we cry and scream out our horror and grief
all the while pushing, breathing, believing
holding it miraculously all at once
for there are children on board
and we are the ones at the helm

we know we need to wake up
and do this in real time
and together

so please don’t stay away
come visit my shore
we’ll sob into each other’s exhausted arms
dance our love into the dirt
sing into the air that still feeds us
and bow down
to the waterfalls
to the mountains
to the clouds
to the double rainbows
to the shiny sun and sparkly stars
to every creature great and small
and to yet one more day spared for loving

but most of all to our children
for they shine with the light
that could have saved the world
and it is like a benediction
and a resolution of sorts
to see it still and always glowing warmly there
in their smiles
and in the simple movements of their arms and legs
and in the questions they ask
and even in the way they drape themselves
around their open hearts
while sleeping

because in this light
is contained the love of everything
and all things
and no thing
which, by definition, can never die

[poem copyright 2011-2012 Charity Kahn; that said, please share it]