This day two years ago today, Noé and I became husband and wife. What better day to write about some of the things that bring me happiness.
Let me start by saying this won’t be a post about all the joys our marriage has brought me, but rather an example of the core reason we both enjoy our life together. We both mutually support each other in the pursuit of individual passions while sharing a set of common goals that put those passions to good use.
This blog post is about one of those passions of mine, and how lately it has given me a sense of peace. It is also a thank you to my husband for giving me courage to seek out my passions and my peace.
So let’s get to it.
As some may know my dissertation research broadly focuses on the intersections between language, citizenship, and healthcare. I have hopes of which direction it will take and am working to make moves in that direction. Lately my focus has been on meeting people in my community who are also interested in these topics and getting their thoughts on it all.
Much of that time has been spent meeting with members of an interfaith group in North Philadelphia that serves immigrant communities in the area. The meetings have been both informative as well as uplifting.
At our last meeting we discussed an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s essay, “An Experiment in Love.”
The excerpt went as follows:
“Nonviolence… does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness. Nonviolent resistance… avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.”
After reading through this paragraph some in English some in Spanish the response others in the room shared fascinated me. People spoke with strong conviction and feeling. Words and ideas came together in ways that stirred my heart and mind. As the designated interpreter for the evening my only preoccupation came from my own anxious work of trying to convey powerful messages across two languages. As one person spoke in Spanish or English and I relayed what they said to others in the room I hoped to make no mistakes or leave any words unspoken. To anyone I failed in that regard I apologize.
My own response to this text comes not from a place of expertise. I in know way claim superior understanding of any religion or theology, the civil rights movement, or current injustices in the world. I can only speak from the perspective acquired through my own experiences. I can offer my thoughts based only on what I have learned about the world in my short 25 years of living.
To me, the most striking line comes about half way through when Martin Luther King writes, “Nonviolent resistance… avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit.”
I have been wondering how to feel about my place in the world, the challenges I have moved past, and the things yet to come. When I think about all the suffering and hurt in my family, my community, my country, and the great wide world it is sometimes hard to know what to do. Feelings of anger, sadness, apathy, worry, and hopelessness rotate through me on a kind of spiritual conveyer belt.
Along that rotation are also feelings of peace, calm, hope, joy, and admiration for those who work to make live better for those around them. Last week when reading this paragraph and discussing it with admirable people gave me a feeling of relief that I carried out the door smiling as I drove home to Noé and Camila. I realized or maybe it was more like I was reminded once again that preserving our inner self and maintaining inner peace is key to brining relief to others in the world.
Of course the spiritual conveyer belt hasn’t stop rotating. So, I have since that evening had unhappy feelings. But I know I can return to be with these people again. I can continue to learn about issues of language, citizenship, healthcare, and other things that matter to my family and my community. I can seek out people, moments, and places that give me peace, but also inspire to me to act.
I am thankful for the blessings and opportunities I have in life. And today, I am grateful to know I can share them with my husband, Noé.