Last night I went to bed reading the news that a black man was found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park. For those that aren’t familiar, Piedmont Park is basically the Central Park of Atlanta. I was there most recently on the 4th of July after crossing the finish line of The Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10k in the country. The circumstances surrounding this horrifying death aren’t yet clear.
This morning I woke up to the news of the sniper attacks in Dallas, Texas.
To be clear: this is bad news all around.
As I’m sometimes able to do, I left the house in the darkness of the early morning to head to the gym. Skimming through my podcasts I decided that this morning I needed to listen to “Heart Wisdom with Jack Kornfield.”
21 minutes into the episode entitled, “Respect and Dignity,” Kornfield describes how the Buddha would bid farewell to people who had come to seek his wisdom. After engaging in dialogue with them, the Buddha would conclude with the words, “Now it is time for you to do as you see fit.”
With the news that seems to daily put us to bed and wake us up, now it is time for each of us to do as we see fit. But there is a caveat. First we must seek wisdom. We must seek understanding. We must reflect. We must consult our conscience. We must weigh different options.
For each of us, the process of deliberation will be different. But each of us must undergo this process. Doing as we see fit, absent any consultation of conscience, pursuit of wisdom, or process of discernment, we will only expedite the deterioration of trust and the disregard for humanity that is swelling up around us. Action without thought, without reflection, and without wisdom runs the risk of contributing to the violence rather than reducing it.
It’s not for me or any of us to tell other people what actions to take. But I hope that we can all encourage one another to do the difficult work of thought, discernment, reflection, and consultation that will allow us to say that we have seized the moment to do as we truly see fit.