#11 In a time of Bad Things


1. Friendly reminder: You don't get to have character without adversity. 

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend. 

~ Naomi Shihab Nye



2.  It's not a question of whether bad things will happen. The better question is how do we make repair afterwards. 

Louis C.K. is just one of many sexual abusers who are being asked to confront the consequences of their actions. Every action has an effect. Most valuable to me was how two of Louis's close friends reacted. 

"Ms. Silverman began [her] monologue by saying that the growing wave of “calling-out of sexual assault has been a long time coming.”

“It’s good,” she said. “It’s like cutting out tumors: it’s messy and it’s complicated and it is going to hurt. But it’s necessary and we’ll all be healthier for it.” One inevitable consequence, she said, is that “some of our heroes will be taken down, and we will discover bad things about people we like, or in some cases, people we love.”

I wish I could sit this one out. But then I remembered something I said on this very show, that if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable, so I’m going to address the elephant masturbating in the room.”

“One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louis C.K., masturbated in front of women,” she said, adding that he “wielded his power with women” in ways that were troubling and sometimes made these women feel they had to leave the field of comedy entirely.

Ms. Silverman asked rhetorically: “I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is.”

“I love Louie,” she said, “but Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So, I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did.”


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"Could I have done more? And in this situation, we all could have.... speaks to the blindness: Eh, he's a good guy, what are you talking about?.... It's one of those endemic, systemic problems we all haven't had the urgency for." Jon Stewart replied in a candid, remorseful, honest way. You can really see the deep sadness about his friend, and his own implied complicity. People of character embody the ability to genuinely reflect and not take the easy way out–– they have an embodied sense of interconnectedness. 

Watch the short interview here. 

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3. "Grief can turn shock and tragedy into wisdom."  

Regardless of our political persuasion, decency and morality and connectedness and self-less care are like a bed of fresh linen after rolling around in the mud all day. This Stephen Colbert interview with Joe Biden made me feel more hopeful and energetic about healing our brutally painful divisions. Please watch it regardless of your political leanings. Keep ya' head up. 

Joe Biden Interview with Stephen Colbert

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