I don’t want to read the word of Jesus today. I don’t want to read the words of Buddha. Words didn’t help last night when Norma told me how sad she was. I said all the right words. I know I did. Look at all my brave little soldiers, banners flying, rushing to the rescue, marching right off a cliff.
Peter Sandman On Corporate Misbehavior And Public Outrage
I tend to be more passionate about the process of communication than about the outcome. I’m interested in people listening better and talking more and wanting to understand each other’s point of view. I try to eliminate the things that get in the way of that. And it’s a Sisyphean task, because industry people and activists aren’t really talking to each other; they’re doing theater with each other. Whichever side I am working for, I try to find a way for both sides to listen better.
This morning I lay under a mosquito net and whispered with my wife as pigeons scratched and cooed on our corrugated-tin roof. Cocks crowed, mangy dogs barked in adjacent fields, and a grandmother with a tattered dress and a beatific, nine-toothed smile swept fallen mango leaves from the ground just outside our door. The ecstatic drumbeats from an all-night Vodou fête had stopped.
“Son, will you come downstairs, please.” He has pulled a chair up to the couch in the living room. We never use this room. The Christmas tree is placed in here each year. I would read in here as a child. That’s it. I sit on the couch and sink down. He sits straight up in the chair, his graying black hair combed back. His eyes soften. Like the sails on a boat, they offer a telltale sign of which way the wind is blowing and how strong. This afternoon, in the fading light of day, they tell me he is tired.
Please don’t interpret this record as an indication that I lack modesty. Rather I wish to provide documentation that my life was holy, that I deserve to be canonized, and that my grave must become a shrine where the devout will gather with wheelchairs and crutches to hold candlelight vigils, chant in fourteen different languages, and pray for a disembodied me, in full glory and shining robes, to come and heal their hearts. Because after abandoning my body, this earthly inconvenience, I will grow in reputation as the patron saint of heartache.
In my wanderings through small villages around the world, I have often sat and marveled at how people in other cultures perform their daily work. There is an acceptance of the tasks at hand and a pride in exerting excellence. At the end of a day their harvest is contentment and sweet sleep.