“A student asked Soen Nakagawa during a meditation retreat, "I am very discouraged. What should I do?"
Soen replied, "Encourage others."
These two words “encourage others,” even as one is striving to find mastery over one’s own demons , best encapsulate the true essence of Buddhism. The journey sometimes starts in the most unlikely places , with empathy , and the quest to look beyond self in service to those in need.
Therefore even if you are not a member of this philosophical thinking, and some might claim faith, you do have the tools to be of some benefit to your fellow human beings , and hopefully in the long run , might help to make the world a better place.
There is no doubt that many folks are locked in an ever turning cycle or even stuck in a deep chasm of hopelessness and despair , and often this is not of their own doing . These folks do not necessarily need our pity, dismissive condemnations., or occasional condescension attitudes. Instead a bit of empathy , and genuine encouragement would suffice.
In light of the recent mammoth and even misunderstood partisan Reform Health Bill , I was drawn to a CNN news story of an unemployed American woman who had in her possession not one , but three college degrees.
This story just might be another transitional everyday drama for the rest of America , but bore greater significance for the simple fact that this woman was African American , and was the daughter of one of the first Tuskegee Pilots that flew the national flags gallantly during WW11 , amidst most of the most horrendous conditions, with little credit for their efforts to help the suffering , especially those millions from the deadly bosoms of Hitler ,the diabolical German ,genocidal maniac.
What the unemployed daughter was implying in her lamentations is the fact that dominant, uncaring ,racist ,white America, repeatedly screwed her father and his generation , and they were doing the same to her today decades later.
Who is going to tell that woman that America could care less about her plight, as they didn’t when her father enlisted, or perhaps grand father did ,during the American Civil War.If I could speak to her I'll say rise up mighty woman, and make something happen , create situations , if it does not already exist . Crying would be of limited help, and you are already ahead of the game with the means to survive , via your educational acquisition.
She is not alone. Within the past 24 hours I spoke for the first time in close to eight years ,with a woman with a Masters of Psychology from guess where , the elite NY Educational institution of Columbia University. She was at the moment without a home, working as a nurses aid of a miserable aged person , without substantial insurance , afraid to use the house phone to talk.
Can you believe that John Hamilton , and our present Commander in Chief Uncle O went Columbia? One turned out to be perhaps the smartest of the Founding Fathers never to become President of the United States, and the other a byproduct of an African immigrant and a Mid west white parents , born during tumultuous , segregated ,America, who eventually journeyed from the poor ghettos of Chicago where he aided the needy , neglected and poor , to eventually parlay that to become President of these United States.
What a tragedy indeed! This lady in question went to one of the most prestigious educational bodies in the land and had little concept of networking , as she did not even own an Facebook account. I had to remind her that without Facebook Obama could not be President today over a millionaire lifelong military leader dynastic figure , or the political heiress of a former popular President.
Now if folks with such abilities are in such psychological despair, what can we expect of our young people , many of whom were high school drop outs and made numerous unwise life decisions , simply because they saw little benefits in educational achievements and sacrifices? There is much hope for although my friend is ladened with the students loans, and her back is against the wall as it were, she cares and want's to do something for overwhelmed pregnant women many of whom are in need.It is a start , I believe.
Let’s continue to encourage others , provide solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems , and yes do our part to make a difference .
It was Charles E. Mac Gee one of the former courageous Tuskegee’s Captain, and later retired Colonel who said , “you can attain your dream if you try and focus on the positive , and not let obstacles in the way, change your course of action in realizing your dreams , of realizing and accomplishing something important to our society, and the strength of our country.”
Now if they could succeed even then, then why now you and I today? Yes we can, but only through prudent and smart efforts!