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Lions Roar : March 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2012 27 healthy home, fall in love, create fami- lies, make money, make peace. Others get caught again in “the life.” At these moments, Raul prays: “Hey, my heart hurts. My heart and my brain hurt. Help me get through this.” As philosopher Cornel West puts it, “Yes it’s a failure, but how good a failure?” There are many disappointments in the life of a dedicated activist—so many lost children, killed ideas, thwarted plans. But the energy is not wasted if it is channeled in pursuit of good failures, like these: • The system may not be permanently changed, but it has been made a bit kinder or more dignified for a moment. • Suffering may not have ceased, but someone has truly witnessed another’s suffering, and that mutual recognition is healing in itself. • All is not equal, but a light has been shone on inequality and made people who perpetuate it take notice. • A child has learned how to ask for help. A former prisoner has eaten a home- cooked meal. A person’s consciousness has been altered by seeing a provocative film. • The world has not been “saved,” but it has been made a little more just or beautiful. The way we understand success and failure is critical not just because it leads to achievable goals, but because it can ensure a grateful and resilient spirit—the only kind truly capable of investing in a better world for the long haul. What could be more radical in the end than refus- ing to be defeated or deflated by failure? To reclaim failure as a mark of a vision- ary and impossible dream worth having, to root our confidence in the smallest of human interactions, to feel buoyed by one productive day, one humanizing conver- sation, one healed wound. From that vantage point, we don’t need “our” president to win, though it is cer- tainly fun when he does! We need to feel that we have contributed to the world that we want to create, that we have talked with people that we disagreed with in a way that we can be proud of, and that we have made our communities more digni- fied, beautiful, and peaceful through our own resilient nature. ♦