“The Weight of Nothing” – an important parable for this election season

25 Oct

If you are like me, you probably find that it tempting to get discouraged in the face of so many problems and setbacks when we are striving to move our country forward with a progressive agenda, an agenda that will benefit average folks. A sense of despair certainly is difficult to fend off when TV pundits in the mainstream media have virtually swallowed lock stock and barrel the narratives spun by Tea Party kooks and other Neo-Cons, and voices of reason are drowned out by all the noisy clamor. One may well feel that tempted to crawl in a hole while feeling that one’s own voice for justice would be nothing more than a vain burst of hot air. And all of this is complicated by the fact that an avalanche of lies are spun through countless ads sponsoring right-wing politicians whose campaigns are funded by a handful of billionaires and Lord knows how many multinational corporations!

There is a fabulous little story that I recalled today that has given me solace and encouragement. I first heard it some 30 years ago while attending a peace conference that focused on forging a path towards nuclear disarmament. I’d like to share it with you:

The Weight of Nothing

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake !” a blackbird asked a dove.

“Nothing more than nothing!” was the answer.

“In that case I must tell you a marvellous story” the blackbird said.

“I sat on a branch of a fir tree, close to the trunk and it began to snow,

not heavily, not like a raging blizzard. No. Just as in a dream, softly

without violence. Because I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted

the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their

number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake fell on my

branch – nothing more than nothing – the branch broke !” Having said

that, the blackbird flew away.

The dove, since Noah’s time somewhat of an authority on the matter,

thought about the blackbird’s story, and finally said to herself:

“Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come

about in this world….”

from A Race to Nowhere, by Pax Christi

Now with only a week to go before the mid-term elections, I ask that you please join me and others in getting out the vote! Here are a just a few ideas as to how each of us can do our part to make a difference:

  • First of all, make sure that you personally make it to that voting booth, voting first and foremost with an eye to policies that serve the common good, including the needs of the poor and marginalized.
  • In addition to the typical network newscasts and newspaper sources (e.g., ABC, NBC, CBS), continue to be informed by rebiewing solid and reliable news sources that present news items and analysis with a critical eye for the truth. A few I would personally recommend include National Public Radio, Democracy Now (podcast and on YouTube), Best of the Left podcast (comes out about every three days), Left, Right and Center (podcast), Rachel Maddow (podcast and MSNBC site), and locally there’s the Shepherd Express. Also, there are some good religious publications that maintain a focus on social justice issues. Two that are particularly of note are the National Catholic Reporter and a progressive evangelical magazine called Sojourners. (If you ever wanted other ideas for good news sources, let me know; I pay attention to a ton of them. Also, feel free to post your own ideas!)
  • Help get the truth out by posting links to news items and editorials that simply and clearly help counter rightwing propaganda.
  • When the opportunity arises in conversation with friends and colleagues, don’t be afraid to tactfully speak up, offering your view supported by relevant facts to the address right wing propaganda that might crop up. Of course, do so in a matter-of-fact manner that us free of malice and haughtiness.
  • then, if you have the time and inclination, consider contacting your political party’s local office and volunteer. (I have done this myself, working both in the phone bank and by canvassing neighborhoods with other volunteers on order to both get out the vote and to help educate others though discussion and passing out literature. (I have met some wonderful everyday folks this way.)In the end, let us fight any and all temptation we might feel to give into apathy and inaction, even in the face of what appears to be a rather bleak political landscape. Rather let us each pledge to place into service our own hands, feet, and voices in answer to that age-old question of “what can one man do?” In the words of my favorite singer-songwriter and activist, Bruce Cockburn, we have to “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.” None of us can afford to be that “one lone voice that is needed” for a brighter future for our nation and its people.
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    2 Responses to ““The Weight of Nothing” – an important parable for this election season”

    1. Patty February 15, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      I am interested in using the picture from fall 2009 “In the Palm of God’s Hand.” Can you tell me who to contact for thaat picture!

      • texastom46 February 16, 2012 at 1:34 am #

        Not sure how to help you there since I didn’t even start blogging until the fall of 2010, and I don’t know what post you are referring to. Thanks for asking, though…and for taking time to stop by my blog!

        Texas Tom

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