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Lions Roar : March 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 26 (sounds a lot like meditation). But as the Buddha said, “Chaos is inherent in all com- pounded things. Strive on with diligence.” If something is always in process, it can never be completed, won, or achieved. The important distinction with regards to citizen engagement is not, it turns out, success or failure, but the quality of the failure. Take the lives and work of some of those I met along my journey: Twenty-six-year-old Dena Simmons was born, raised, and now teaches in the Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the country, where the high school graduation rate hovers around 50 percent. She devotes every workday, and most of her weekends and evenings, to educating and nurturing twenty-five thirteen-year- olds. Some of her kids will make it. Many will not. About this she says, “I think fail- ure is an opportunity to learn. Nothing came easy for me growing up, so I have this fighter attitude.” Filmmaker Emily Abt wants to docu- ment the difficult lives of social workers and teachers so the world can pay long overdue respect to public servants. In pursuit of her dream, she has lived below the poverty line, is called a “bitch” on set, and loses friends when she insists on tell- ing the messy truth in documentary form. She also gets emails from young women who have seen her films and as a result decided to protect themselves from sexu- ally transmitted infections. “It’s a constant hustle,” Abt says. One idea takes her straight to Sundance; another ends up on the cutting room floor. But her goals remain unchanged: “I think the best activism, the best kind of films really, inspire people to help them- selves. That’s what I want my work to do.” Thirty-five-year-old Raul Diaz spends much of his time in juvenile justice hall waiting rooms, trying to get teenagers who have been exposed to indescribable violence to give in, heal up, and get out. They tell him horrific stories of abuse; they deny the crimes they have commit- ted. But slowly they learn to trust and admit to their darkest acts. Raul teaches them to meditate. Some of them leave prison, find a ShambhalaSunFoundationAnindependent,nonprofitcorporation.PublishersoftheShambhalaSunandBuddhadharma:ThePractitioner’sQuarterly • Subscribe • Renew • Pay an invoice • Give a Gift • • Purchase back issues • Change your address • • Inquire about a subscription • Replace a missing issue • online: easy, Quick, and secure Visit Subscriber Services at www.shambhalasun.com or www.thebuddhadharma.com call toll-free Weekdays, 11:30 am – 8 pm ET: 1-877-786-1950 overseas: 01-760-317-2362 Fax: 1-760-738-4805 email: