Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jack Kerouac and the diamondcutter of mercy

Today's post is a reminder - in a society where materialism runs so rampant that you can get trampled to death by shoppers crowding into a Wal-Mart - that what matters is not what you own, the job you do, where you live, what clothes you wear, or what car you drive. I'm not about to tell you what does matter. That's for you to figure out. If you can't figure it out simply by looking at the above image and pondering it for about two seconds, then my advice is to drive to the nearest Wal-Mart and the rest of us will hope for a stampede.

Sorry to be so negative, but between the absurd event at Wal-Mart yesterday and the death-dealing going on in India - not to mention Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, and too many other places to mention - I just want to scream:


It doesn't have to be like this. It doesn't.

Be peace. Start right now. Show compassion in the next interaction you have with a person, animal, tree, stone, whatever. Show compassion to yourself. In fact, start there.

I need that reminder. Every day. Every second. Several paragraphs ago I let my anger turn to a violent wish. No! Choose kindness. Compassion. Mercy. It starts with you. Not Bush. Not your boss. Not your significant other. Not this or that government. It starts with YOU! Until you end violence in yourself, there will be violence in the world.*

In The Dharma Bums, Ray (Kerouac) gives Japhy (Gary Snyder) a going-away gift:

The next day I figured to give Japhy some kind of strange little going-away gift and didn’t have much money or any ideas particularly so I took a little piece of paper about as big as a thumbnail and carefully printed on it: MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY and when I said goodbye to him at the pier I handed it to him, and he read it, put it right in his pocket, and said nothing (1976, pp. 214-215).

So that's my beatific wish for myself and for every other human on this planet:


*For more on this, read anything by Jiddu Krishnamurti, but especially Beyond Violence.

1 comment:

green ink said...

Rick, what a timely and beautiful post. Thank you.