In a world where there is such inequality and the quality of lives is so disparate, it is up to us to right the ship.

It may start with dread and fear and despair. And then we get sick of dread, of constant fear of the wrong things, of living in fear, of the mire of being pulled down into the darkness over and over, of the denial of freedom and courage. We must move into a place of freedom and courage and stand up for those for all living beings. When one of us is not free, we are all not free.

There has been a shift from pain to joy. This is a simple shift in mechanical terms, but the work it took to get here is immense and complex, like a maze. The truth of joy, now that it is apparent, is simple and comforting and bright and gentle. I have lived my life for meaning and to understand—mostly, why I have been allowed to have such a good life when so many others suffer unspeakable horrors. I am not sure how to live when there is a lack of freedom, oppression, prejudice, hatred in the world. It seems a simple thing, to live a life, but it is not simple at all and the body and psyche move along the boundary line between life and death as if coding a sacred text that cannot be read until the next generation.

Fear is a delicate and powerful emotion. It serves a healthy purpose and it can also lead us away from our true calling, what we feel is right, the courage to speak up for our beliefs. Fear has served me well in my life. A lot of times, I have been afraid of the right things. I have always had a healthy degree of fear that alerted me to real dangers and led me away from them. And it has also driven me down into darkness from which I thought I would never emerge.

I am trying to write clearly and honestly about something that is very new to me, a desire and commitment to joy. I have been committed to having depth, meaning, love in my life. But joy has been elusive. I have been happy, but being truly happy has scared me. So the fear and joy were together and never far from each other. Now I move into being joyful without fear. When I say I am committed to this, I am committed to joy for all beings. I do not think of joy or pain or fear as being only personal emotions. We are connected so deeply with each other and we are affected deeply by each other.

All of the pain and joy that we feel is a connection to other pain and joy and it is also a connection to light. We are connected through our pain. When we feel pain, it connects us to every other being that has been alive, and everything is alive, we are connected to the whole world, the entire universe. The glimmering bursts of color on the horizon, beginning out of nothingness, a blackness that is pronounced and certain, and like all certainties, fades into its other shapes–doubt, sunlight, faith, day, morning, sunrise, stretching over shining orb to create again and again the beginnings of existence.

We can and must speak up and out and move forward in the direction of creating a better world, peace, justice, balance, equality. The price of silence is too high. It is a denial of our humanity to remain silent when we feel so much pain. We must breathe and speak to honor those who could not. We can be afraid to speak out, but the cost of this to ourselves, our own souls and our world is too high. We can create a stable foundation of joy, peace, acceptance and gratitude in ourselves and bring this into the world. From this place, we can be honest about the grief we feel about the injustices and cruelty in the world. The cruelty of others makes us even more determined to speak, more dedicated to justice and equality and peace. Gratitude and love does not mean denying feelings of grief, fear, oppression, frustration, anger, and hopelessness. Gratitude and love are about fully living in this human existence and taking part in it. We can fall into despair, we can become depressed. I have been despairing a lot lately. That bleak, sharp edge is always there. It is part of living in a world that seems crazy and horrible sometimes. But there is also always beauty. There has to be. We must make beauty out of the fallen house, the burnt trees, the thirsty desert, and the melting glaciers by honoring and helping and saving. We can choose to honor nature, the ground we walk on and that gives us food, the sky above us and the breath in our body, the rain, the snow, the fires and the closest star that keep us warm, all other life and living beings on the planet, which is everything. Everything has a soul and a life. We make the choice to honor and respect over and over again, each day, adding our voice to the sound of justice and peace and true freedom and equality and safety for all beings.