The World Has Need of You

Dome at Union Chapel

The dome at Union Chapel

I was reading several essays by the Quaker educator, activist, and author Parker Palmer recently when I came across one that included a poem with the title, “The World Has Need of You.”  He was drawn to this work by poet Ellen Bass in part because of her line “It’s a hard time to be human.”

Any time can be a hard time to be human, but we do find ourselves living in what can charitably be called interesting—perhaps historic—times.  Palmer makes the point that each of our lives, words, and actions makes a difference, especially in times of stress and widespread anger.  The world needs us to think and then act broadly and deeply, with integrity and charity, as part of a community.

Palmer links to another essay by the writer Courtney Martin that deals with first questions.  First questions that stay with us for a lifetime, such as an eight-year-old Dorothy Day, witnessing the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and shaping the rest of her life around the question of why we wait until times of stress to care for others without judgment instead of “Why can’t people always care for one another unconditionally?” First questions that drive us to understand that the world needs us.

Detail from Triumphs and Laments

Detail from Triumphs and Laments by William Kentridge (Rome, 2016)

All of this has me thinking about my own first questions, and what actions the world—at home, work, in community, and globally—needs from me now.

Have a good week.

More to come…

DJB

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