The day before yesterday, the Dalai Lama posted a message on Facebook suggesting that each of us take on, what we may feel to be, “a huge task.”
When we take on “this huge task”, chances are that sometimes the sheer enormity of the challenges may overwhelm us. We are constantly bombarded by realities such as this BuzzFeedNews investigation report that “even after they were prosecuted or fined for financial misconduct, banks such as JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon continued to move money for suspected criminals” — that “The networks through which dirty money traverse the world have become vital arteries of the global economy. They enable a shadow financial system so wide-ranging and so unchecked that it has become inextricable from the so-called legitimate economy. Banks with household names have helped to make it so.”
The BuzzFeed piece quotes a senior US Senator pointing out that “If you’re wealthy and well-connected, you can figure out how to do an enormous amount of harm to society at large and ensure that it accrues to enormous financial benefit for all of you.”
News such as this is common, and it is understandable that despair may creep into our souls — a despondency that, whatever wise souls like the Dalai Lama may say about each of us doing our bit, the world will not change for the better.
Rule Number 7 of “The Forty Rules of Love” (the fictional account of Shams-i-Tabrīzī, whose life & teachings were pivotal in the transformation of Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī from theologian to mystic) by Elif Shafak is helpful here.
Whatever happens….no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair.
On 4th April 1967, exactly a year before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to an audience at a Church in New York City. While Martin spoke largely about the moral need to end the war that America was pursuing in Vietnam, his Talk was a message to the world, calling for a “genuine revolution of values” – a revolution that leads to “a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation” and “an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.”
As Martin, with characteristic power, made this call to each soul in the world, he was also realistic that some may “readily” dismiss this as a “weak….force”. Acknowledging that some may be bereft of faith, he quoted the historian Arnold Toynbee, that “the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”
The rock musician Bon Jovi agrees singing his 1992 song – come what may….
“Right now we’ve gotta keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith.”