The heat of summer still lingers as we begin to think about the fall. The Summer Olympics are behind us. Lots to think about and discuss regarding athletes’ mental health and how we think of them. I get emotional watching the games. To see Carissa Moore, a native Hawaiian win the first Olympic gold medal for surfing. Walking in the footsteps of people like Duke Kahanamoku who brought surfing and the people of Hawai’i on to the world stage. He lived in a time when the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown by businessmen and the US Government. A time when Hawaiian language was illegal. A time when the culture of Hawai’i was systematically being erased. Kahanamoku, an Olympic gold medalist himself, was able to bring aloha and surfing to the world. And now a century after he brought surfing to the attention of the Olympic Committee, Carissa Moore returns to Hawai’i with the world recognizing her skills and the power and beauty of surfing. Note: People might assume that I surfed growing up. I tried it a couple of times. Got seasick in the swells between sets. So sad.
It was inspiring and humanity affirming to see athletes colliding on the track then picking each other up and finishing the race together. To see high jumpers rather than continue to compete, l decide at the moment to share the recognition of their highest Olympic achievement. There will be some who will not recognize or value these exchanges of humanity. However, many will see these brief glimpses and find hope.
There is so much chaos in the world. Sometimes we literally can’t catch our breath. We cannot hope and ignore what is happening around us. Millions of people have died from COVID this past year. There are vaccines available but access may depend on who you are or where you are. Vaccines are not new. They have been used to eradicate diseases that have crippled and killed hundreds of millions. When a way to defend against smallpox was being explored smallpox had been around for centuries. It followed explorers and trade. Spreading rapidly through new populations. Smallpox killed 3 in 10 people. The development of the smallpox vaccine came through the observation of milkmaids and cowpox. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait for millions more to die before we recognize the value and importance of everyone being vaccinated.
In the midst of all that is going on we should not forget that we have been caring for our sangha and our friends and neighbors. In these times when we struggle to recognize and understand the relationship we share with the world around us we should remember that we continue to engage the world through our actions. When we shop, our decision on how to shop and what we purchase affects the world around us. Shopping for groceries we make choices. Do we buy organic? Do we buy local? How is the packaging or non-packaging handled? Each of these decisions has consequences that can influence large scale macro activities. Kathy has been for many years a proponent of local grown organic food. Her Plant-a-Row project was a continuation of growing food from when we were in the Northwest. As plant based meats began appearing in markets she began incorporating that into her cooking. When I buy tri tip on sale I contribute to global warming and deforestation. If I reduce or eliminate beef from my diet I can join those who help reduce greenhouse gases and help turn around the degradation of land, water and air.
When we combine our efforts there is much we can do. The BCA’s Endowment Foundation has been directing its investment manager to invest in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. Our Betsuin is considering building materials for the new education building that will be less harmful to the environment than traditional concrete.
Although we are isolating ourselves to reduce the spread of covid, we are still in a relationship with the world around us. The shape of the relationship, as with all things, is changing. If we are mindful we might recognize that although the circumstances of our lives have changed, the relationship we share with the world around us is as creative and vibrant and meaningful as ever. We simply need to consider our own expectations and appreciate the life that we have always been immersed in.