I was planning to write a series of blog posts last week, but I was sandbagged by two events, 1) the decisions by grand juries not to prosecute anyone for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the ensuing protests, 2) the revelations of the so-called Torture Report that our government condoned the torturing of prisoners.
It seemed in both cases that both the values and the institutions of this country were somehow broken, and it was very disheartening. I had no mental energy to blog, and in this lowly state I caught a cold which dug in and refused to dislodge itself for several days. So the theme of “healing” had been on my mind earlier this week when suddenly the phrase “the parable of the sower” came to me while I was warming my body in the shower.
It was interesting because that phrase has a double connotation for me. The phrase “Parable of the Sower” reminds me of the Biblical parable told by Jesus which most scholars think is optimistic in outlook, in that despite numerous initial failures of the seed to take because of the unreceptive ground on which it is cast, eventually the “seed” cast by the sower will be successful, take root and produce a large crop.
The other connotation of the phrase “Parable of the Sower” for me is the science-fiction dystopic novel written by Octavia Butler. It is set in a future where the government has collapsed and society has reverted to anarchy due to the extremes of economic inequality. Lauren Olamina, a young African-American woman, develops hyperempathy, the ability to feel the pain and sensations of others, escapes with some survivors after her community is destroyed and her family murdered. On the route north with some survivors, she tries to start a community where her religion called Earthseed which espouses the central tenet
“whether you’re a human being, an insect, a microbe, or a stone, this verse is true:
All that you touch,
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
I am inspired by Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” to write about trying to heal a fractured community. However, it is not as grand as Lauren Olamina’s vision of a new religion which recreates a new community in the collapsed remnants of the old. What I want to do is write about those ways in which I personally plan to try to “light a candle in the darkness” in order not to start a new community per se, but at least to make life in this little corner of the community a little bit better for those around me. Some of my efforts will not bear fruit, so I have to focus on my actions themselves, and not the fruits of those actions. I have to have faith in the “Parable of the Sower” from the Bible in that most of my efforts will not be successful, but the ones that are successful … will have an effect.
Here’s the series of posts I plan on writing as part of the series.
1. Experience the Other, not the Narrative
2. Choose: Pay it Forward or Break the Chain
3. Find a Balance between Compassion and Tough Love
4. Increase your Relationship-Wealth
5. Empathize with Your Enemies
6. Come out of the Shadow
7. Adjust your Attitude and your Altitude
8. Communicate in a Sacred Manner
9. Learn a New Language: Become a Mapmaker
10. Follow the Hero’s Journey: Become a Mythmaker
This is a series of personal posts that I plan to write until the New Year arrives, and I hope to reflect on what I have been able to learn in the past year and a half since I have moved back here to the Chicagoland area from Southern California. Of course, I write out of my own experience in the hope that some readers will find some echo of their own experience in what I write. Hey, I’m just planting seeds, after all!