Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up, when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts, embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders, teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies, recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire: Another world is possible.
Thus spoke the prophet Roque Dalton: All together they have more death than we, but all together, we have more life than they. There is more bloody death in their hands than we could ever wield, unless we lay down our souls to become them, and then we will lose everything. So instead,
imagine winning. This is your sacred task. This is your power. Imagine every detail of winning, the exact smell of the summer streets in which no one has been shot, the muscles you have never unclenched from worry, gone soft as newborn skin, the sparkling taste of food when we know that no one on earth is hungry, that the beggars are fed, that the old man under the bridge and the woman wrapping herself in thin sheets in the back seat of a car, and the children who suck on stones, nest under a flock of roofs that keep multiplying their shelter. Lean with all your being towards that day when the poor of the world shake down a rain of good fortune out of the heavy clouds, and justice rolls down like waters.
Defend the world in which we win as if it were your child. It is your child. Defend it as if it were your lover. It is your lover.
When you inhale and when you exhale breathe the possibility of another world into the 37.2 trillion cells of your body until it shines with hope. Then imagine more.
Imagine rape is unimaginable. Imagine war is a scarcely credible rumor That the crimes of our age, the grotesque inhumanities of greed, the sheer and astounding shamelessness of it, the vast fortunes made by stealing lives, the horrible normalcy it came to have, is unimaginable to our heirs, the generations of the free.
Don’t waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth Into the throat with which you sing. Escalate your dreams. Make them burn so fiercely that you can follow them down any dark alleyway of history and not lose your way. Make them burn clear as a starry drinking gourd Over the grim fog of exhaustion, and keep walking.
Hold hands. Share water. Keep imagining. So that we, and the children of our children’s children may live
V’ahavta is the Meditation Mantra of the Month. V’ahavta is a Hebrew word meaning, “And You Shall Love”. As in, and you shall love God with all your heart, soul, and might. And You Shall Love your neighbor as yourself.
V’ahavta (You Shall Love) is the greatest commandment in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. You Shall Love is the Golden Rule that extends beyond religious belief, and is simply the standard of how we will survive and thrive as humans in general.
What if we re-membered V’ahavta (You Shall Love) as our one and only job as humans. What if in our interactions with family, community, friends, and work we evaluated our words and actions through the lens of the V’ahavta? For example – is it part of Doing My Job (You Shall Love) to correct and critique how my husband loads the dishwasher? Nope.
Is it My Job (You Shall Love) to write a zinger of a comment on a Facebook post that I think is stupid and ridiculous? Nope. Not my job.
Is it My Job (You Shall Love) to stare at my belly in the mirror and chastise myself for how much bigger it has gotten. Nope. That is in direct violation of my job description (You Shall Love).
If you pass your words and actions through your one and only job description as a human (You Shall Love), is what you are doing necessary or even productive at all?
Years ago I was on a two week road trip to recruit summer camp counselors for the camp I was working for in Colorado. When I returned home from this long trip, I discovered that a housemate had cleaned my room. This housemate (a much beloved friend) was herself (like me) not the Martha Stewart of tidiness. She didn’t clean my room because it was driving her nuts to look at (why and how I pick up after my kids), but because she knew that it would be so nice to come home to a clean room. And it was. It was so nice. She did her job (You Shall Love) so amazingly well.
I think the V’ahavta filter also helps to weed out the always unhelpful (and never our job) SHOULDing on ourselves and each other. Telling people what they Should do, think, say, feel, understand, remember, see, hear, know – all of it – not in your job description. The commandment doesn’t even use SHOULD. It doesn’t say “you should love”. No! So, shoulding on yourself and others – Not Your Job.
And You Shall Love. And You Shall Love. And You Shall Love. That’s It.
Peace on your head, you. —- Rachel —–