i wonder what words and images you feed your eyes every day?
The very best of presence
A few years ago my sister-in-law Ro gave me one of the best Christmas presents ever. A selection of beautifully framed quotes on different aspects of Justice.
These quotes live on the walls of my Man Cave* which means that most days when i sit in my Man Cave i am reading quotes such as these:
[*Not an actual cave!]
What this means, is that each time i lift my head and take this one in:
‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’ [Nelson Mandela]
i am left with the question: Am i living in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others? – this often becomes a time of reflection for me as i think back over the last week and some of the projects i am currently involved in [as well as the ways i spend my time, energy and money] and let these words hold me accountable.
Then there is this one:
‘Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’ [Benjamin Franklin]
Now, if i am honest, i doubt i have ever been quite as outraged as those who are affected by daily issues of injustice. But i do choose to be outraged by injustice issues that do not affect me directly. Perhaps that speaks enough to why change is so slow-moving. Reading this quote reminds me to press on with things that matter, even when they don’t touch me directly.
This one might be my favourite:
‘And may the appalling hate of others fuel you to step more deeply into your work as a warrior of love, justice, and freedom in the fight against oppression and bigotry.’ [Cleo Wade]
And just led me down a rabbit hole. Could not make out the name on the quote and so googled it and came up with Cleo Wade who is not a name i knew. But am now a follower on Instagram and the Twitterer and definitely looks like someone i am going to resonate a lot with.
While this discovery is happening, i have also been being introduced to the incredible India Aria – initially by my friend Hani du Toit who suggested her music and have been educating myself on a name and talent i was not aware of. Check out her song ‘I am not my hair’ and more.
But back to the quote – the idea of being fuelled by hate [which is inspiring a poem in me already – watch this space!] seems so counter-intuitive and yet it’s seeing the negative and darkness in others that inspires you to do what you can to positively affect the world. i love that!
Step more deeply into your work as a warrior! i have become quite wary of metaphors of war and violence. But when it’s a warrior for [Love, Justice and Freedom] more than it is a warrior against, i can embrace that.
What kind of world do i want to be a part of imagining and creating?
Dorothy Height is another name i don’t know [heads off to google!] but this quote is super powerful:
‘I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom… I want to be remembered as one who tried.’ [Dorothy Height]
Turns out Dorothy was an American civil rights activist who focused specifically on issues of African American women, including unemployment, illiteracy and voter awareness. She died in 2010, aged 98! Wow, what a life.
Then there is James Baldwin:
‘We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.’ [James Baldwin]
That is definitely a quote that requires some generous and repeated chewing. Wow. Just so much power in there.
Finally a quote from Martin Luther King Jnr:
Overcome evil with good!
This is another of my absolute favourite quotes:
‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ [Martin Luther King Jr.]
This resonates so deeply with me because it reminds me of something Paul wrote in his letter to the Roman church, where he said, ‘Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.’ [Romans 12.21]
This speaks against the death penalty [killing people to teach people that killing people is wrong] and gun ownership and so much more about some of the methods we use to stop others from doing things we hate that often result in us looking very much like those people or the things they were doing.
How do we become people who bring light? People who build and create and dream and imagine and grow and unite and invest and support and more…
The words your eyes feast on
These are just some of the words that my eyes feast on almost every day. They feed my soul and remind me who i am and more so, who i am trying to become. They remind me that this thing [life] is so much bigger than me. They inspire me to look outside of myself and to the greater community and world and become a part of a greater experience of that for everybody.
Add to these words, the words i read, the songs i listen to, the series i watch, the people i hang out with and the conversations that emerge from there as well as those that i speak or write or send.
How do my words feed the eyes of those who encounter them? That is a question worth asking and returning to.
How about you? What words feed your mind and soul and day to day experience of how you relate to the world and to your time, energy and money and to issues of Justice and Injustice that exist around you? Share some of the quotes that inform and inspire and drive you!
Brett Fish is a lover of life, God, tbV [the beautiful Valerie] and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.