Tell Your Story/Listen to Mine

Coming home from a political rally downtown I wondered to myself if there was any hope. Can we as a country ever come together? Can we stop our verbal attacks on each other just long enough to listen for a moment? How can we as Max Ehrmann suggests in his Desiderata “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” A possible answer came when I later watched and listened to Deeyah Khan’s April 2016 What we don’t know about Europe’s Muslim kids.

Deeyah has received awards for her documentary films and is the founder of Fuse, a company that gets minorities to tell their stories. Deyah’s story which she shares above is moving and truly for those of us that think in those terms, the Way of the Cross today. She also shares her discovery that the perpetrators of violence are themselves wounded persons and that if we are ever to move beyond more violence, we must learn to listen and understand.

In her TEDxExeter talk she quotes the African proverb: “If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.” While Deeyah is addressing the Muslim community, she could just as well be addressing Chicago, the Catholic Church, the schools…. We must she insists learn to relate and understand each other and listen to our young.

I believe the answer to my initial question, can we ever come together is—yes. We can if we come together to tell your stories and just as important listen to others’ stories with the same compassion we hope to receive when we tell ours.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

pain

O pain,  here you are again.
I should be used to you.
You visit my Dad so often,
physical,  intense pain.
But you can’t stop him from being happy and kind.
You are no match for his beautiful and sweet  disposition.
Each new day,  with the  clouds or sunshine, brings him gratitude and joy.
He is so much stronger than you.

Pain.

You visit my heart. You pierce me by hurting my Dad.
I hate you but through  you,  I become closer to God.
I offer you up for  souls,  for Dad’s soul.
Every time you visit,  I cling to the  almighty with trust and joy.

 

img_20170118_201951Lisa-Marie who is relatively new to the Partners, is our first strictly online Partner. She attended a Passionist retreat in May of 2014 where: “I was then introduced to our sorrowful Mother. I now see the sufferings of Jesus in a whole new light and want to honor Mary by meditating on her sorrows and to permanently keep Christ’s passion in my heart.

 

Come Dance with Me

You might ask me: “What in tarnation makes you think: ‘you are God’s gift to the world?’” Well, I’ll tell you. Actually, no, I’ll let Aimee Mullins do that with her inspiring October 2009 TEDMED Talk: The opportunity of adversity.

If you take the time to listen to Aimee’s talk above I’d bet you’ll realize that Aimee is not the only gift God has given the world. We are all God’s gift to the world. Aimee ends her talk with the following poem from a fourteenth century Persian poet.

“Every child has known God,
not the God of names,
not the God of don’ts,
but the God who only knows four words
and keeps repeating them, saying,
‘Come dance with me.
Come, dance with me.
Come, dance with me.'”

(Hafiz)

I think it’s time to tell the real story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, those characters we hear about from the evangelists. They probably did not have the hindsight that the gospel writers had. They probably wondered why they were given the adversities they experienced, a child being born out of wedlock in a world that believed the woman in such a situation should rightfully be stoned. And they were afraid. Why else would we keep hearing the words: “Be not afraid.”

So, it’s not even Christmas and I’ve received the gift, the gift of life, the very particular gift of who I am with all my frailties, talents and fears. Like Mary I can say yes to these and in turn give that gift back to the world, a world so in need of what I have to offer, myself—yourself.

Merry Christmas!

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Let’s Stop the Rhetoric and Tell Our Story

“No had never been an option. “Just do it,” she said, “and don’t be what you’re not.” (Tan Le)

There are two things I hope I never forget, family and family. My birth family combined first and fifth generation Americans resulting as you might expect in some lack of understanding or appreciation by certain members. I learned of this retrospectively in the listening to our stories as told especially at holidays.

Birth families while so formational need not, and I believe, should not determine or limit our understanding of who we are. I’ve been reminded this past week how knowing another’s story can lessen the fear of the other when I took the time to listen to Tan Le’s 2011 TEDx talk, My Immigration story. Tan Le’s story while much different from my father’s parent’s story who came from Ireland gave me an appreciation of other immigrants struggles maybe much more challenging than that of my grandparents.

So much of the rhetoric of the past nine months leaves out the stories that inform true understanding. Struggles, challenges (crosses) along with triumphs and joy make us who we are. My family story like Tan Le’s while totally different is at the same time totally the same.

I just wonder maybe if we spent more time, sharing our stories and less time explaining how we are different, maybe we’d be more understanding, but then that probably wouldn’t sell news programs. Happy holidays and happy listening and sharing.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Making Peace One Person at a Time

Did I ever tell you about Mike? Mike is dead now, but for about twelve years we met regularly to share our life stories. I gave a eulogy at his funeral. We had a lot in common. Mike, like me was an Irish Catholic, we were about the same age, we both grew up in the Midwest… There was also much we didn’t share especially when it came to politics. Mike was a steadfast Republican and a big time labor lawyer who helped his clients fight unions. I am and have been all my working life, a staunch Union supporter. Those positions put us at polar opposite politically.

I had never heard of Elizabeth Lesser when Mike and I were getting together, but we were doing just what she suggests in the above December 2010 TED Talk, Take “the Other” to lunch and what I am suggesting in this short post. Find someone who thinks the polar opposite about some issue you feel strong about (if you’re like me that won’t be too difficult), decide on a goal and agree to the following rules: “…don’t persuade, defend or interrupt. Be curious; be conversational; be real. And listen…[use questions like] Share some of your life experiences with me. What issues deeply concern you? And what have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?”

Why would you want to do this? If you are like me, in a short lunch hour, you’ll learn more about yourself and what is important in your life than if you spent a lifetime sharing with people who think like you. More importantly, I suspect you’ll learn like I do when I follow Lesser’s advice, we all have a lot more in common than what separates us. I really like how Lesser ends her brief talk with the Runi quote: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

On the Power of Telling Our Stories

 

storycorps

Some stories leave me speechless. Alex Landau in his StoryCorps sharing with his mother in Traffic Stop is just such a story. In Traffic Stop, Alex recalls a horrendous encounter with a three police officers who pull him over, find some weed on his white passenger friend (Alex is a 19 year old African American) and because Alex has the nerve to ask for a search warrant is beat up by the officers and then asked: “Where’s that f#*@& warrant now you nigger”?

Yes, I’m speechless, but I can’t remain silent. I believe silence is the problem. I also believe it’s not my job to place blame. What I can and must do is recognize and identify not only with the victim (that’s easy), but also with the perpetrators. That’s not easy. It is necessary if any healing will take place. I, like the officers involved, often treat others terribly. Worse than that, I ignore them and don’t even admit to their existence.

In the September 28th Chicago Tribune’s Commentary, “I’m a 78 year-old racist—Mel Novit tells his story. Mr. Novit courageously identifies where he needs to grow. and gives me a powerful example of how I can learn and grow, no matter my age, by recognizing my mistakes, owning them and then most importantly do something to make up for them. Often, as in Mr. Novit’s and Mr. Landau’s cases, I can simply tell my story.

Thank you Mr. Novit and Mr. Landau for your bravery and willingness to share so that I can grow.

Learning and Growing by Doing

ubudehe

After graduation, architect Michael Murphy met Bruce Nizeye a local builder in Rwanda, who he calls a brilliant engineer and a healer. (I usually don’t think of those two images together) Nizeye teaches Murphy about “Ubudehe,” which means “community works for the community.” Nizeye also introduces him to lo-fab (locally fabricated way of building with: “…four pillars: hire locally, source regionally, train where you can and most importantly think about every design decision as an opportunity to invest in the dignity of the places where you serve.” WOW! Places have dignity.

What an amazing concept! I wonder what our U.S. cities would look like if we practiced Ubudehe (community works for the community), and lo-fab building, i.e. hired locally, sourced regionally, trained where we can and most importantly think about every design decision as an opportunity to invest in the dignity of the places where we serve? Michael Murphy in his February 2016 TED Talk “Architecture that’s built to heal” shares how after completing an architectural degree in the U.S., he ended up in Rwanda and learned this new vision of architecture from the poorest in the world, often I believe, our best teachers.

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

The Secret to a Happy Life

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Some people need no introduction. Mother Teresa is one of them. Her message to the world, though thousands of years old, strikes me as new and earth shattering and more refreshing today than a hot loaf of bread just out of the oven. Thank you Mother, now Saint Mother Teresa for pointing the way. I will try to follow.

 

Swords into Plowshares

Monica Araya may not look like the prophet Isaish, but she truly speaks like him in her June 2016 TED Talk: A small country with big ideas to get rid of fossil fuels. According to Monica in 2015, Costa Rica produced 90% of their electricity from green renewable sources. She further tells how in 1949, Coast Rica abolished their army and because of that today, they are able to provide free education and health services to every citizen. WOW! Sounds like heaven on earth to me.

United States’ President, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the build up of the military industrial complex in his 1961 farewell address and Ronald Reagan in his 1987 address to the United Nations said:

“Cannot swords be turned to plowshares? Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity.”

I think Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan’s words are as relevant as ever, if not more so, today than when first spoken. Many will laugh at me, when I say, it’s time for us, the US to stop investing in arms and start investing in people through universal education and healthcare for all, just like Costa Rica. They will call me naive. So they did Isaiah and I suspect Monica in her TED Talk about the small little country of Costa Rica who in 1949 abolished their army. I think I’m in good company.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey