Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Singing and Dancing With Karma

I watched part of the news last night, something I don't do very often.  For me it's kind of like a soap opera.  You can tune in every now and then and it hasn't changed that much.  Lots of suffering, reported in great detail.  Can I do anything about most of that suffering?  Does it add to my life or is it helpful in some way?  We each come to our own conclusions about this.  A comment made by a Zen teacher regarding the news rings true for me: "Just because there's mud out there, doesn't mean I have to roll in it."  So a daily fix of news is no longer part of my life.

But last night I watched a report with curiosity and couldn't help thinking about karma.  A young school principal in New Brunswick decided to discontinue the singing of the National Anthem in classrooms because children from a particular religious group were not permitted by their parents to participate.  He felt it was uncomfortable and exclusionary to ask them to leave the class each day.  Guess what happened.  Entrance stage right.....  A mother of some children in the school opposed this and opposition mounted.  It became a big deal.  He received death threats by phone and finally an angry visit from someone who said some extremely unpleasant things to him and told him he would be run out of town (original typo said "fun" out of town I wish this were true!).  The school board decided against him and daily anthem singing resumed.

At the beginning of the interview he looked self assured and what he said did not seem unreasonable.  He seemed caring and with good intention. I could see poor little children being packed off into the hallway at the beginning of the day.  I could definitely sympathize that this did not seem good.  Then the woman who opposed him spoke (her nephew had been killed in Afghanistan) and she too had some interesting points.  As the cuts back and forth progressed showing the argument, you could see the slide from composed principal to distraught man crying on camera saying he didn't know if he could ever teach or work as a principal again.  I thought about karma.  Wow.  How did he get from here to there?  From a single well intentioned action to someone who felt devastated and run out of town?

It reminded me of how we can cling so tightly to our  opinions.  Both sides.   And end up in places we never imagined or intended.  We get started on something and end up in over our head.  We can't find our way home. No one wants to give an inch.  No one wants to let go, give in, let the buck stop here.  We take so much personally.  And the dances we get into with other folks require us to put on combat boots instead of ballet slippers.  It's a tough one. Perhaps he was a little arrogant about his position, maybe a little self righteous, he was after all the principal, he was in charge, he gets to decide, right?    I think we all spend a little time in the "I know best chair" every now and then.  I know how badly that plays out but sometimes I climb into that big comfy chair anyway.  It's like a law of physics, the swing of the pendulum, pull it far over to one side and it's bound to swing far over to the other side.  I could see the suffering that this man was experiencing.  It was truly saddening, that this action that started with good intentions ended in such personal grief.  For me it was instructive.  It reminded me to be careful, to see heel digging, opinion clinging on my part as a red light..... a place to stop and ask "what's this about?"   So I will say a little prayer for this man and his town and all the beings suffering in this same way.  And I will say thanks to him for reminding me which shoes to wear when I go out dancing.

This colourful little collage is an older piece and it reminds me that there we are, some of us dancing lightly on the top of the porridge bowl, some of us falling in and getting oatmeal up our nose.  Which bear are you today?  

1 comment:

  1. Cause and its dance partner Effect! How we must be so aware how we choose to glide across the stage of life. Om Peace;-)