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Seeing Signs of Hope
The soothsayer in the street holds up a sign: The End Times are Here - it’s Armageddon! Yet the sun rises the next morning and life goes on. We were really ready for it on December 31st 1999 - but nothing happened. And now as we approach 2012 some are a bit nervous for the Mayan predictions. All along there has been a deep inner knowing that things on this earth were not right. People have been searching for answers and reaching out to every imaginable possibility. Are we doomed? And if we are what can one person do? Better not to think about it.
And what better place to not to think about it than the distraction of a tropical paradise? A beach walk on a beautiful Costa Rica day takes you light years away from the world’s harsh “reality.” As those refreshing ocean waves wash away all my cares, I find it hard to believe there is turmoil, turbulence and disruption at this very moment. Can it be? In North Africa and the Middle East, millions of people, held under the dominance of greed and corruption are rioting in the streets. In Iran, the peaceful Baha'is are imprisoned under intolerable conditions. In North America an innocent child, found eating from garbage cans at age three, is tossed around from family member to foster home and never really has a home. And right here in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, crack heads and drunks are stumbling around at the other end of the beach.
Distressing events are always occurring, and pleasant ones, as well. We choose our point of view. The dog runs up to me and flings a coconut. Her brother was hit by a car and killed, right in front of her. Yet she is in the moment, happy to be here with me, playing and scampering in the surf. A graceful line of pelicans circles overhead and swoops down to skim the cresting waves. Determined little crabs scurry across the sand peeking in and out of their hiding places. These things are just as real as the heart wrenching side of reality. And the celebration of this beauty no more constitutes a disregard for the heartbreak than does a simple reverence for life. Life itself is a sign of hope.
Hope can be seen in every aspect of life, even the grim ones. My Korean friend, Lynn, struggled with drugs many years ago. She has since overcome the addiction, raised a beautiful family and is living the good life after the sale of her very successful business. Recently an inner voice inspired her to make the one hour drive, from her home in Limon to Puerto Viejo, twice a week for the sake of the crack heads. Now they are still stumbling but in the direction of hope. Along with some home made Korean food, Lynn shares her own way out of addiction - through Bible study.
Jamal, the tossed around kid, came from the city streets in Alabama - a place not so nurturing of pride and self esteem for the black man. At age fifteen his ailing grandmother could no longer care for him so he was taken in by a neighbor. This generous woman, who became his mom, brought him to Puerto Viejo, as a place where he might find friends he could identify with. I see great hope here, that the warmth and spirit of the Afro-Caribbean culture will give Jamal the identity and love he needs to finally feel at home.
These are just two examples. There are many stories of hope to be found just outside your door. In the larger world, among others, are the imprisoned Baha’is: a kind and gentle group who give only love and wish harm to no one. Throughout their past three years of incarceration under the most unspeakably inhumane conditions, two Baha’i women have become living saints. Fariba Kamalabadi and her friend, Mahvash, have endured worse than most could imagine. Thrown in with despised and hardened criminals, living in dirt, filth, and illness; pitiful conditions, they managed to maintain an attitude so loving and full of grace that they have transformed the hearts of the demons around them. Their refusal to see evil in any soul, and instead finding and nurturing human dignity is a testament to hope.
Stifled spirits, abandoned souls, environmental demise: the problems of our world are vast and overwhelming. How can one cope? Must we resort to denial? No, for eventually that will drag us down to despair. We must look for hope in the awakening and ascension of human consciousness. That is indeed the only thing that can rectify each and every issue in the plethora of mortal predicaments.
As life’s lessons enlighten us we realize that to hurt another is to hurt ourselves and we begin to grasp the idea that we are all connected; we are all one. The animals, the plants, the people, the planet: we are all one, brought to life through the breath of God, with hearts created to beat in harmony.
The Mayans knew this. They were not predicting the end of the world for 2012 - only the end of the world as we know it and the beginning of a new era. As we get closer to our new beginning, life’s lessons may become harder. This can be seen in the economic crisis of the world. People have been forced to re think their values and prioritize regard for humanity over material gain. As more and more people come to a higher understanding, the consciousness of all humanity is affected and change occurs. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in North Africa and the Middle East today.
Anti-government protests are spreading rapidly throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In a period of two months, what began as an uprising in Tunisia grew into anti government demonstrations in nine neighboring countries. *The initial date each country’s protest rallies are as follows: Tunisia -December 17; Egypt - January 25; Jordan - January 28; Kuwait - February 6; Yemen - February 11; Algeria - February 12; Bahrain & Iran - February 14; Libya & Iraq - February 16. Morocco and Syria seem set to follow.
(*Washington Post - http://wapo.st/Washington_Post)
It began in Tunisia with one man, a fruit vendor. He set himself on fire in protest of the disrespect and humiliation inflicted upon him by government officials. One man’s enraged expression reached into the aching hearts of others and instigated action. Citizens gathered in their nation’s capitals demanding relinquishment of governmental domination. As the ruling powers began to fall, more people were inspired to believe that they, too, could make a difference. Two months later tens of thousands of people have participated in protest and adamant anti government demonstration. Martyrs are being made as the reigning powers fight back. A man cries out after his twenty two year old brother has been killed in the riots, “Don’t let my brother’s blood be shed in vain!” Amidst the chaos, catastrophe and furor in the streets are the pangs of people giving birth to freedom.
Freedom is an essential part of what it means to be human. It is our nature to want to decide the course of our lives and even the course of the next moment. Human fulfillment and self realization requires the freedom to think, believe and express ourselves as we choose. Today demonstrators shout into the television cameras, vowing to the world their commitment to freedom. And this is not just for themselves: they pledge to hold their ground regardless of the danger. These people are willing to give their own lives for the benefit of others. What higher objective could one aspire to?The awakening and ascension of human consciousness is happening right before our eyes.
What can one person do? I’m not going to set myself on fire. But I did make Valentines hearts and hand them to strangers in the streets the other day. Not so impressive but it was something I was inspired to do, to spread love. This little gesture put a smile on people’s faces. And I received a gift myself, the next day in the thanks of a young girl. She told me she’d been lonely on Valentines Day, with her family far away. A cheerful stranger handing her a heart lifted her spirits. She took a picture of herself, holding the little pink heart that said “Feliz dia del Amor” and happily sent it to her family.
I come from a country founded on the principles of human rights. I grew up with my hand on my heart each day, affirming liberty and justice for all. Some of my compatriots are worried about what the new people in power will do, in these disrupted countries. That is not our concern. I say we should all be ecstatic! We should be dancing on the tabletops and shouting from the rooftops, “Nations are breaking free!” I may be on a beach but my head is not in the sand. What is happening in the world today is a great sign of hope and I can feel it’s jubilant ascent all the way down here in Costa Rica.