My heart has been so heavy since the Presidential election, and it’s taken some time to sort out my feelings to figure out why my heart has been so heavy. After all, I’ve been “awake” for decades to the racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia and other forms of fear that separate us. Yet, I did hope that the results of the election would reflect more intolerance for these isms. It feels rather like they’ve been affirmed, empowered, and released with a vengeance. This makes me angry on so many levels.
Coincidentally, this past week I’ve been exploring versions of the story of Pandora.* In the more well-known version, as told by the Greek poet Hesiod in about 800 BC, Pandora is the first mortal woman created by the gods. She is a vengeful being, releasing the evils of life upon humanity. She sounds like an early version of Eve … the woman taking the blame for all the evil in the world.
However, there are other sources dating back to 2500 BC that present a very different, more empowering, Pandora. In these ancient drawings and writings, Pandora is a goddess, the Earth Mother, who makes all things – source of all that it is. Rather than holding a box, she is herself a vessel, a bearer of the seeds, and the fruits of life. You could see her as the cornucopia that symbolizes abundance.
The latter has been a healing and inspiring image for me as I emerge from my post-election disappointment and begin reading articles and listening to the news about the people who will be leading our country over the next several years. It’s been a healing and inspiring image for me as I read about the bullying, violence, and hate-filled acts that have been on the rise since November 9th.
The image of Pandora as the source of creation reminds me that I am also a source of creation…. that each and every one of us is creating the world we live in. Being kindness will certainly help to move us toward a kinder world, but it will take so much more to create a more peaceful world. I think it’s okay for those of us who envision a Beloved Community that includes all beings sharing a sustainable and healthy planet to feel angry about systems of oppression, white supremacy, and ignorance that allow for these hurtful “isms” to be empowered. It’s okay to feel intolerant of those attitudes and actions that are counter to our Unitarian Universalist covenant to affirm and promote the worth and dignity of EVERY person and the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part … of which we all rely upon for our very lives.
As we prepare to break bread with family and friends at the Thanksgiving table later this week, I encourage “being kindness” as we reassure our beloveds who may have different ideas about our values that we love them and, we don’t agree with them. When the dinner is over, the dishes are done, and we return to our routines, continue to “be kindness” and, let your anger and intolerance for injustice to fuel a commitment to create freedom, equity, peace, love, and sustainability in this world. In that commitment to action is a source for hope, one of the many gifts from Pandora’s vessel of creation.
– Jan Taddeo
*Healing Pandora: The Restoration of Hope and Abundance, Gail Thomas