Excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for one another see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:7
I recently attended a yoga class where the instructor shared with us that he was trained as a chemical engineer. During his higher-level science courses he had to answer each question with two numbers. The first number he said, was the answer to the equation and the second answer was the degree of certainty that he believed the answer was correct. As he spoke he shared with us that nothing, even science is 100% certain and initially that scared him, until he learned to trust and let go.
So this got me to thinking. How often do we activists and peace workers excuse ourselves from changing tactics and strategies because we don’t have a high degree of certainty that the new way will work? And like unhealthy relationships, we stay with what we know, even if it’s not working as opposed to stepping out into a new way.
If nothing is certain then how assured am I that what I am on the streets “fighting” for is the right answer? It’s an answer, but could others be hurt by unintended consequences because I haven’t taken the time to consider I/we could be wrong? And that’s the crux of it, for me. What if I’m wrong? Knowing that risk, doesn’t excuse me from acting or working toward a better world, but it does call my arrogance and certainty into check. If I think the choices and actions of those in power are wrong and hurtful, then I need to recognize I could be capable of the very same thing.
So we are back where we started. How do we get power-holders to let go of their fears, to understand that sharing power and resources actually strengthens all of us? Do I care enough about those in power to try to alleviate their fears? Or do I discount them? Do I acknowledge my own fears? At a recent dinner for the Organization for Black Struggle, Montigue Simmons said, “Fear will kill us if we let it. If we want to transform our communities we must engage what we fear.”
I’m afraid of being wrong. I’m afraid that I might lose some of the comforts I currently have. I’m afraid of hurting someone else and getting hurt. I’m afraid that the degree of certainty is low that transformation is possible. Or maybe I’m really afraid it is a high degree of certainty and I won’t have the strength to give when it is asked of me. I’m afraid that I’ll refuse grace of transformation just to keep what I know. At times, I’m afraid, I don’t have enough faith.
As I write, there’s a wiggly 5 year-old, sitting on my lap sharing my headphones with me as we listen to Sara Thomsen. Sometimes for him going to bed is scary, he’s still getting used to this new place. That’s the grace of a 5 year old. He’s honest with his fears and trusts I’ll help him find a way to challenge and overcome them. He worries about monsters. Monsters don’t like to read, so we read a few books before bed. He’s afraid of the dark and so we are sharing some cuddle time together before he goes to bed with his Mickey Mouse night light on.
So while it’s not organizing a big protest, writing radical legislation or publicly challenging a CEO, I believe there is a valuable contribution to world peace to hold one another’s fears by taking time to share, connect and love. Together, I think we can alleviate those fears. You have courage when I cannot; maybe I can find a solution, when fear takes away your choices. At times I can carry your fears and at others you can carry mine. I’m not sure about anything any more, but in complete earnestness I believe that the grace in giving and sharing – even our fears – is what saves us.
On the path,