Tag Archives: compassion

Getting in and along: Connecting with Clarity and Compassion

Here’s a summary of one more chapter from Mindful Ethnography – one that addresses one of the most important issues in this book, not just for ethnographers, but in terms of the lessons I want to take from ethnography for living in the world. It explores how we can connect compassionately and empathically with others (and with ourselves), staying connected with both our heads and our hearts, as we engage in activity in the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdoQ62CRXI0.images

It digs deep into the question of “othering.” Just who do we create as others (in both small and big ways, along large social axes of race, class and gender, as well as in all kinds of everyday ways).  To what aspects of our selves do we construct these “others”?   What “empathy walls” do we put up – what Arlie Hochschild refers to “obstacle(s) to deep understanding of another person, one(s) that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs ”? Can mind-hearted practices help us surmount them, transcending our own limits on how far we are able or willing to go – or at least better recognizing them? What might we see on the other side, and how might that help us in our efforts to transform the world?

I also share an “aside” in this chapter – on the paradox of accepting things as they are while acting to change the world – one of several paradoxes I sit with in this book as I bring together scholarship, spiritual pursuits, and social action.  (See also this blogpost:    http://www.marjoriefaulstichorellana.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=262&action=edit)

At the end, I offer a guided “metta” meditation for field workers: a way of connecting with more clarity and compassion with all of the people in our field site.

Embracing contradictions: The beauty and terror of life during a pandemic

Words, like the virus, are circulating madly through invisible networks of exchange these days: words of conviction and certainty, anxiety and fear, blame and shame, praise and support, anger and outrage, compassion and kindness, hope and wonder, terror and grief.

Most writers take one tack or another.  Some point to the injustices that the coronavirus brings into relief. Others highlight the possibilities that emerge when people work together for collective good. Some find creative ways to send uplifting messages for the future. Others look to the past, seeking someone or something to blame. Some anticipate the Apocalypse. Others see the Dawning of a New Age.

I am trying to embrace all these contradictions, and to feel it all: beautLet everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going ...y and terror, hope and fear, love and anger, humor and horror, joy and grief. I see the best and worst of humanity, and both dread and relish what could lie ahead.

The things I am witnessing are both difficult and wonderful, both terrible and beautiful, both full of possibility and filled with tremendous pain.

They are the result of actions taken or not taken in the past, and caused by things that none of us could ever fully control. We know what we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and we also know these things may not work.

The suffering is, and will continue to be, both shared and unequally distributed. The pandemic will target particularly vulnerable populations and it will hit all sectors in an inexplicable, seemingly random way.  It will likely lead to creative solutions to long-standing social issues and to the deepening and hardening of existing inequities.

We already miss things we can no longer do, even as we are discovering new ways of connecting and of reinvigorating social life.

We will surely weather some aspects of the crisis with grace and strength, and fall apart at other times. We will rise to our best selves and succumb to our worst. This will be true at both an individual and collective level.

In short, there is no single, definitive narrative to tell about the coronavirus, just like life.

Except, perhaps, the ones we choose to tell, and work to make come true.

Where do we want to put our energy, our thoughts, our time? What words and ideas will we send into the ethosphere?  Which ones will we breathe in, and which will we block with a metaphorical mask? Could we collectively bend the arc of the universe even just a little bit toward justice? Could we tip the balance from terror to wonder, fear to peace, anger to love?

This may be the most disconcerting and liberating lesson we can take from this time.  To some degree, it’s up to us.

The coronavirus may seem like our enemy, but perhaps it is our greatest teacher – and even, despite or because of all of the contradictions it brings – our friend.Life: The Greatest teacher of them all | EdTerra Edventures