sábado, 27 de agosto de 2011

Face to Face

There are times when the last thing you want to do is deal with conflict, with negative feelings, with hurt and pain. Being as it is, the world is conflicted, hurting, being torn to pieces; what can we do? Each of us is capable of kindness, of compassion, and generosity, but often we feel so bogged down with our own concerns to find this place of peace within ourselves. Perhaps if we could let it sink in that this is really all we have to do, the world’s troubles wouldn’t seem so great. We can work, move through life’s events, both good and bad, confront issues, resolve problems, all the while maintaining a connection with our true selves. None of us are “useless” or adding to the problem as long as we maintain in our intentions this thread with our own and other’s humanity. Each of us can acknowledge that the path of life is the path to peace and that we don’t have to buck and revolt in order to find this.

We can create the spaciousness in our lives required, regardless of how busy we are. Taking time to acknowledge a moment, to observe, to take a breath; this can be done in any situation. There is a grumbling happening on a global scale; many things are not OK. Together, we can be with this unsettled, ungrounded world, and be not-OK together. As a human population we can relax into life with its shit and love and disease and healing. What a sigh of relief this could be, to allow the messed up nature of things, knowing that we are meant to be here, sitting with it all. This certainly isn’t a petition for apathy or laziness, quite the contrary; it takes a lot of work to be able to sit with all that we feel and experience, without judging it.

I recently read a book by Pema Chodron, a renowned Buddhist teacher from the US. This is my take on some of her teachings, and how I interpret them for myself and for a global movement for change. My favorite line of hers is one in which she says that we should “Give up Hope.” She says this in the context that we are all chasing something, a better personality, a better job, a different family. Just give it up and sit with it as it is, “hoping” for something better is potentially leading us on this destructive path. It’s very un-Obama, but I please ask you all to just Give up Hope.

lunes, 8 de agosto de 2011

Think again

Lately, I have had much time on my hands as there are two weeks of vacation from school, and my days have returned to the unstructured nature in which I began this experience. This, combined with a broken computer has afforded me much time to contemplate, and to rethink some things that I had begun to take for granted, and to read...a lot.
Recently, I stumbled upon an article in an old edition of the Peace Corps magazine, which focused on the re-emergence of an agricultural focus in international develoment. During the 1980's, with the Reagan administration, there was a push towards more technical and business assistance in the Peace Corps, and away from agricultural and environmental programs. While technological and business programs are still encouraged, environmental programs are going strong, and agro-forestry is making a comeback.
In rural Peru, the life of the small scale farmer is becoming increasingly precarious. Prices are generally low, the work is hard, access to water is sometimes scarce and the use of pesticides and fertilizers drives up the costs of producing a decent crop, not to mention contamination. All these issues have driven people out of the villages and to cities, both near and far, breaking up families, and causing the growth of the urban poor. Fewer and fewer of the upcoming generations are committed to working the family land, and are in search of something "better."
Currently, I am reading the Grapes of Wrath, a wonderful American classic. Reading this book while living in Peru is giving me an insight to the thoughts and emotions faced by the community. While this isn't the dust bowl of the early 1900's, the sense of insecurity, and of injustice thrives under the surface of everyday life. I mentioned this story to my host mom and how the earth became dry and inhospitable. She responded by saying this was what may come one day to this area, a fight for water, unforgiving soil, mass exodus. I hope she's wrong.
Nevertheless, this has opened my eyes. While committed to my work with youth, the realization has set in that this aspect of life cannot be ignored in my work with the community. Everyone contributes to the cycles of harvest and planting, growing and watering. Perhaps the next step is to find my place in this daily cycle. I believe that while committing to learn about living off of land, I can come to understand more about my neighbors, the country, and the direction we are going globally.