I love the words of Joseph Jean Lanza del Vasto in his Warriors Of Peace, says that living a life in which there is nonviolence or unfairness.…is the most significant testimony in favour of nonviolence.
Nonviolence, justice, compassion, fairness, authenticity, love …..Living an ordinary life based on these may be difficult but it’s the only way forward. Terry Hershey tells this story:
During the Great Depression, Dorothy Day founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Moved by her story, in the mid-1970’s, Parker Palmer began volunteering occasionally on New York City’s Lower East Side. At Mary House, the Workers lived with the poorest of the poor, providing food, shelter, medical attention, and other forms of direct aid, as well as advocating and agitating for economic justice.
Kassie Temple was one of the workers at Mary House. A brilliant writer with a Ph.D., she could have been a professor. Instead, Kassie chose to share life with the poor, helping to keep hungry and homeless people from starving, dying of exposure to the elements, aiding people who have been brutalized (as well as engaging in political advocacy on their behalf).
Palmer writes, “I volunteered for a couple of days several times a year. Of course, every time I came back, a new wave of human misery had washed over the place. So one day I asked Kassie the question that had been vexing me: How do you keep doing this demanding work, day in and day out, when you know you’ll wake up tomorrow to problems that are as bad or worse than the ones you’re dealing with today?”
Kassie told me, “What you need to understand is this. Just because something’s impossible doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.”
The Most Significant Testimony
I ask myself what am I testifying to through the life I am living. Am I staying true to the priciples I espouse? Is my life the most significant testimony to these principles?
I found these questions that are useful for all of us to answer:
Do I speak and write truthfully?
Am I authentic with the people I love?
Am I compassionate with those I do not know?
Do I hear the cries of the vulnerable and the helpless?
Do I live knowing that I am a “God carrier“? (phrase attributed to Bishop Desomd Tutu)
Is there meaning in my life beyond money and success?
Is my heart open to love today, and willing to risk vulnerability?
Am I willing to be wrong, to learn and to grow and to try again?
In October, I started writing a series called 31 Days about Living A Principle Driven Life. Since I wasn’t able to complete it then, I’m doing so now. You can follow my posts here.