“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
What thoughts come to your mind upon hearing “Oprah Winfrey”?
Class, grace, soul, empathy, justice, survivor, wealth, power, elegance, intelligence, creativity, renaissance?
Recently when visiting with Ellen, her response regarding a character-diminishing tweet from a political figure resulted in a mere shoulder shrug. The world understood what she was saying and with that simple body language, Oprah positioned herself above the callous, uncivil, and immature tweet passing itself as political/social discourse. She trumped her detractor with grace, elegance and non-engagement.
She has been quoted to say, “I try not to give power to negativity.”
In these tumultuous times, I need to heed Oprah’s wisdom. I am the first one to jump feet first into a political foray. That usually results in heated conversation which resolves nothing more than declaring them the “idiots” and me the “thinker”. My mind wins the argument every time. But, that victory comes with a price tag. With each successive news story capturing my attention, the need to respond becomes an involuntary commitment to always be in “combat” mode. It’s not a healthy mental nor physical condition to carry through out the day’s activity. It colors every potential peaceful moment with anger and disgust. I am giving power to all the world’s negativity even though I know this is not my God’s intention for my life.
The Buddhist tradition reminds us to find the quiet spaces within, to freely allow thoughts, positive and negative, to flow effortlessly into and out of our minds. Do not resist any but, also, do not dwell on any. That is the power within which shapes our seconds, minutes, hours, days in this path called life. It is my choice to surrender that power to negativity or goodness.
Certainly this does not dismiss us from the responsibilities of social justice for all mankind. I have not been called to retreat to hillside caves on a Greek island, baking bread for the brothers and chanting verses throughout the day, although this is often an extremely beckoning option. I know who I am today, I know what political action I will support, I know what my vote will be in upcoming elections, but learning to embrace Oprah’s advice will allow me to be “who I am” in a peaceful, self-empowering, soul-nurturing walk through life.