| Ever wonder how a great quotation can be so meaningful?
“To be or not to be…”
Maybe because it’s the paradox: common sense and uncommon wisdom. It reminds you of what you know, but it tells it to you in a way that flips your brain to completely change the way you think – and feel – about almost everything.
Mohandas Gandhi was himself a paradox: as much Idealist as Pragmatic Activist. A single person is not supposed to be both, you know? So, maybe it wasn’t surprising that when I read the following quotation from him, I almost started to cry and at the same time to thrust my hands up in the air in excitement about the triumph of his gentle-revolutionary thought. He wrote:
“The more efficient a force is, the more silent and the more subtle it is. Love is the subtlest force in the world.”
English imperialism was to Gandhi’s Indians what Covid is to us. What can be done about such threats? The forces are too big, too violent, too entrenched.
Gandhi didn’t try to force change on anyone. Satyagraha – non-violence – went deep. Gandhi was strong. Gandhi was vulnerable. Gandhi’s vulnerability was Gandhi’s strength. Gandhi let himself feel the pain of a nation. He literally took it on in how own body, as he fasted when England would not repent and retreat. And he fasted after his heart was broken, when liberated Indian Muslims and Hindus fought each other.
Let me be direct. Does it pain you that so many have died from Covid? Do you feel the hurt of those who can’t get medical care because hospital beds are filled? Does it tear at your stomach that hospital workers are exhausted, ill, stressed with no end in sight? Does it pain you that despite this, close to half the country will not vaccinate to protect themselves, their families, neighbors, fellow humans?
If so, you can lead. Your vulnerability – to feel and express your pain – can be your strength.
Lead, not by the anger you may – I often do – feel. Not by settling in the indifference that sometimes seems the only choice. How?
Express your sadness and your hope.
What if, in our own words, we said at holiday tables, “My heart really breaks that almost a million people in our country have died of Covid. My heart breaks that we’re not doing everything we can to stop the disease.” Hard Stop.
Will Uncle George feel attacked? Maybe. After all, the British imprisoned Gandhi for his sincere questioning; Birmingham imprisoned King for his. What if you said your heart breaks, felt it, and even cried as YOU felt the sadness? What if? What if Uncle George calls you a snowflake? What if love is the most subtle and efficient force there is?
What if somebody decides to get a vaccination? What if you feel a little more alive for speaking? What if you feel a little more purposeful? What if, you
Lead with your best self?