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This is a bit older. I wrote it in 2008 while living in Malawi (and clearly reading too much Rumi), but the feeling is as fresh now as it ever was then. Maybe more.

The Second Way

There is a way
to look at the crisis,
and not cry. To see injustice,
famine, the virus of the blood, and yet stand
straight enough to speak
is difficult, but not impossible: forget your glasses.
Bring instead your weak
myopia, your astigmatic haze,
dulling the vistas of hopelessness until
there is only your nose and one pot of maize,
one school fee, one welcome song, one child
wailing in your arms. This way,
survive, and serve again.

There is only one way
to look at the crisis,
and not cry.

But if you would cry, get up!
Walk out of that body, prostrated
and voiceless in its shame. Baptize
yourself in its tears and turn your back.
When you see the fires of impossible hope,
jump in! Blaze. Immolate fear in the coals
of your joy. This is the second way.
Then watch: these sparks,
they are heating a nation,
they are lighting the world.

letter j

Who puts their hands on their hips, stomps their foot, and shouts, “Thanks not fair!

A spoiled brat?

An immature child?

How about a champion of justice?

Justice means seeing with your own eyes, hearing with your own ears, and not relying on thirdhand information before you judge.

Justice means equality, except when it doesn’t.

Justice is a sense of right and wrong that permeates the consciousness of adolescents, whether their vision jives with that of the adults in their lives or not.

And surprisingly enough, justice promotes some decidedly un-childish qualities. Generosity. Compassion. Determination. Self-sacrifice.

If your knee-jerk response is, “Well, life isn’t fair,” you’re missing out on an opportunity.

How isn’t it fair?

Why isn’t it fair?

And most importantly, how do we go about changing that?

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc