FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Of Peace and Humility

by MICHAEL ORTIZ HILL

When Benjamin checked into the hospital, he didn’t know whether he came to die or get a new heart, and he didn’t care one way or another which it was to be. At sixty, he was played out, and his heart was, as Tony might say, “dead meat.” When I became his nurse, it had been only a few days since he’d received the heart of a man half his age. He couldn’t keep from resting his hands across his sternal incision, astonished to feel another man’s heart beating in his chest.

Benjamin was astonished also for an even more profound reason. He was feeling compassion for the first time. “I was never a man who was given to weeping,” he told me, “but now it’s all I do.” I was moved to watch him minister to his roommate, a young man who was himself on the short list for a new heart.

Mostly Benjamin was weeping because he’d spent forty years in the CIA, cold and efficient, “on company business” in Laos, El Salvador, the Congo; supervising torture in Latin America, clandestine operations in Africa and Asia. “If only Americans knew,” he kept saying. I suppose for the two days I was with him, I represented the America “that needed to know.” He poured his heart out.

All this was far less melodramatic than it sounds, maybe because he had utterly come to the end of his rope. His grief was soft, reflective, and he was continually surprised that he could feel anything at all. His new humility was genuine, and every night his prayers were quiet as he began his new life.

It is a beautiful thing, the prayer that comes naturally when cruelty is acknowledged and razed to the ground. “I thank God for removing that hard heart of mine,” said Benjamin.

The twelve steps are a schooling in the nature of humility from the moment we say “yes, I am incapable of altering those patterns that cause such violence” through uncompromising self-scrutiny to this raising of the hands in supplication.

Step Seven prays from the knowledge that for all our self-examination, we will never fully see ourselves though we are fully seen. We will see more clearly after our hearts are changed, but to be human is to be born with a measure of blindness. Like Benjamin, we do not genuinely know what impedes our relationship with God and the world. We must concede the ragged heart to a wisdom quite beyond what we will ever understand.

Benjamin’s story belongs to all of us who live on the fruit of our countries’ violence. Our hearts have been likewise hardened by what has been routinely done in our name. Can we locate the cancer of cruelty in our lived lives? Or does it take the guise of indifference? Or do we just rely on people like Benjamin to enact the cruelty that sustains an unmanageable culture of addiction? You may discern a vague answer to these questions, the outline of a hardened heart that is the only heart we know, but no matter. Offer it up, as did Benjamin: I am here. Heal me. For the sake of the world.

It is here we succumb to the generosity of Spirit.

MICHAEL ORTIZ HILL is the coauthor (with Augustine Kandemwa) of Gathering in the Names ( Spring Audio and Journal 2003) and Dreaming the End of the World. The full text of this essay is posted at www.gatheringin.com He can be reached at michaelortizhill@earthlink.net

 

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail