Skip to main content

The world is out of balance. And yet most of us have little connection to nature, at a time when an understanding of the natural world appears more crucial than it ever has before.

The climate change talks sponsored by the United Nations begin in Copenhagen tomorrow, in an atmosphere of confusion and anger.

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the disaster in Bhopal, India - where people are still suffering and dying.

What do we owe to one another, as human beings? What do we owe to our planet?

I have no proper answer. It's overwhelming. And when I'm overwhelmed, when I find I can't take refuge from reality any longer - by messing around on the Internet or getting caught up in the holiday "spirit" or just retreating into the everyday rhythms of life - I turn to poetry. This week it's been Rainer Maria Rilke whose words have been haunting and helping me.

In his early Book of Hours, Rilke writes about his conception of God - not as an all-powerful deity, but as a manifestation of humanity at its best (those are my words, and I am sure Rilke would put it better). Therefore God is near:

You, Neighbor God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.
Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.

Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

            - From Poems from the Book of Hours, translated by Babette Deutsch.
              New York: New Directions, 2009.

What I take from Rilke, and from others I've been reading this week - from Keats, Auden, Donne - is this: each of us has to be our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper. Which does not mean that we are obliged to leave our own lives and loves behind. It means we have to do what we're capable of, steadily and calmly.

What words help you get through when times are hard?

Originally posted to brothers and sisters at dailykos on Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 05:10 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site