Lori Kochasnski, ELCA Pastor and Spiritual Director in Pennsylvania
At one of the events today, I was reminded that if I just take a kernel of my new understanding about the need to work toward gender equality and other goals of justice that is enough to begin implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. A a kernel may not seem like that much, until it is stuck under your sock, inside your shoe on a 5 mile hike.
The first event I wandered into today was called, “Happiness and Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation, and one of the gift mantras practiced is, “May you be happy.” When feeling particularly bad about humanity, I try and practice this exercise by silently offering this happiness to anyone I encounter. This means I offer it to the annoying person on the other end of the phone, the kind woman who held the door for me at the tea shop, and the people I love. I was curious to hear how happiness and this spiritual practice connect to gender equality.
During the session, one of the most important acknowledgements of the challenges to “happy” came, when in answer to a question one of the panelists, Jennifer Olmsted, admitted that, “There are places where happiness is difficult…if you have an empty belly you have a more difficult time choosing happy.” Dr. Olmsted was not saying it was impossible, only more difficult. Sitting there with a belly full of breakfast, I was left wondering why don’t I choose “happy” more often.
In the afternoon I found myself in a stinky, hot room at one of the meeting venues. I almost left. I am so glad I did not. In that room packed with people I learned about how art can influence people to think deeply about issues like no other thing can. In the introduction to the session we were told that, “In the intimate quiet space [viewing art], you have the opportunity to challenge assumptions and move toward enlightenment. Raising consciences is the first step in changing the world.” Through art this organization addresses issues of human trafficking, female genital mutilation, honor killings, domestic violence against women and girls, and others.
“The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions”
One take away to giveaway today: Figure it out…What do you care about right now? What is your deepest hope for the peace of our world? Don’t think too hard about it. You can change your mind tomorrow. Choose something. Study that thing. Create around that thing, whether you create art around it, make decisions by it, or choose to embrace whatever it is with joy. Bear it and bear witness. Keep opening yourself to whatever it is without fear, without looking back.