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When the news of the week drags me down with the dysfunction, vitriol and violence of our species, I search for a framework that provides a meaningful counterbalance. How do we gird our spirits to withstand the tsunami of negativity?

For me it entails shifting a paradigm. Instead of portraying ourselves as the center of the universe as our venerable traditions teach, what if we understand ourselves instead as a precarious experiment in one small laboratory at the margins of the cosmos? It seems like a reasonable possibility, especially as our capacity to love, nurture and create seems to be succumbing to our propensity to vilify, confront and destroy.

Maybe our task in our short span of life is simply to find our calling, pursue it with passion and love those around us. Maybe the energies of love extend out beyond the gravitational pull of our planet to combine elsewhere for the greatest good. Because our perspective is lost in the tall grass around us, we may not know if it makes a difference to anything larger than ourselves and our immediate circles of influence.

Nonetheless, a much larger world beyond our grasp may depend on our persistence in generating love. Mary Oliver raises this prospect in her poem Song of the Builders.

On a summer morning I sat down on a hillside to think about God –

a worthy pastime. Near me, I saw a single cricket; it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way. How great was its energy, how humble its effort. Let us hope

it will always be like this, each of us going on in our inexplicable ways building the universe.