Broken Places

How do people become corrupt? How do people fail to embrace ethics and consequently engage in unethical behavior? Or, after accepting and internalizing an ethos of integrity that translates into moral behavior, why do they abandon integrity in favor of deceit or corruption? And how does corruption blossom into something as terrible as full-scale war?

Those questions rattle around in my head this morning as I think about Vladamir Putin and his deadly catastrophic misadventures in Ukraine.  And I wonder why good people seem unwilling to stop the bad people, the latter of whom are far fewer in number? Why can’t good prevail, when there is so much more good than bad in the world? Or is that a Pollyanna attitude? Some days, I want to beat my head against a stone until I am no longer able to experience the madness this planet brings to my doorstep and into my mind.


There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take… The line between reason and madness grows thinner.

~ Rosa Parks ~


“Leaning into pain.” That phrase never meant much to me until I had such intense pain I thought I would rather die than allow it to continue. Somehow, though, I managed to understand the concept of leaning into pain. I approached it from the perspective of learning what pain is to me. I visualized pain as a part of me from which I could take away knowledge by attempting to understand it. I measured its intensity and its duration, focusing more on measurement than the experience itself. That helped me get through that awful experience. Several times, in fact. Later, I read something that I keep trying to internalize, but haven’t always done successfully: The Buddha said, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere.” I suppose the problem with internalizing something so profound is that it is very difficult to actually believe it. Maybe impossible. But even in disbelief, it can help measure pain and may contribute to the ability to tolerate it.


The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

~ Ernest Hemingway ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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