Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
It seems there is always more. More slavery. More war. More poverty and starvation. More species lost. The list goes on, so familiar and so overwhelming. Yet if we are overwhelmed we are paralyzed wondering “what can one person do?” There are many great answers to that question. But perhaps it’s the wrong question. For doing arises from being, in this context being a person of compassion grounded in a sense of justice. Perhaps the question is, “what can one person be?”
King Cormac was a man of honor and justice, in right relationship with his people, the land, and the divine. His doing came from his being and from this following piece it’s clear his being took root in childhood. In this piece his son has asked, “What were your habits when you were a lad?” “Not hard to tell”, said Cormac.
I was a listener in woods
I was a gazer at stars
I was blind where secrets were concerned
I was silent in a wilderness
I was talkative among many
I was mild in the mead-hall
I was stern in battle
I was gentle towards allies
I was a physician of the sick
I was weak towards the feeble
I was strong towards the powerful
I was not close lest I should be burdensome
I was not arrogant though I was wise
I was not given to promising though I was strong
I was not venturesome though I was swift
I did not deride the old though I was young
I was not boastful though I was a good fighter
I would not speak about any one in his absence
I would not reproach, but I would praise
I would not ask, but I would give
For it is through these habits that the young become old and kingly warriors.
If we attend our grounding and our being, if we are just and merciful and humble, can there be any course of action or doing that doesn’t make a positive and meaningful difference in the world?