Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Third Course of Action

Reflections on Gentraí, Goltraí, and Suantraí

At the Firefly Willows blog, I've written that 2012 is "The Year of Action". in keeping with that advice, I'm committing to more activity here, at The Swallowtail Project. I envision The Swallowtail Project as the place where my "activist" self will share and  invite exchanges.

What kind of "action" will I embrace? What kind of "activist" will I be?

In our highly polarized culture it would be easy to say that my actions and writings will reflect my earnest thoughts for what is "best" for my community, the culture in which I live, my descendents, and my planet. And no doubt, I will be taking actions that reflect my perspective. I'm unabashedly politically progressive. I will be championing causes accordingly.

But even as I do so, I recognize that such an approach is likely to further polarize, and as such, may not be nearly as productive as I would hope. Within such actions there is an embedded antagonism to those who are conservative. I harbor no illusions - it's very real to those who are antagonized by it, even though my perspective will likely be one of equanimity and thoughtfulness.

So I am called to reflect on the legend of Uaithne, Boan, and their three children:

Uaithne…was husband to the River Goddess, Boand (the holy Irish river, Boyne).  When Boand delivered her first child, it was a difficult delivery and she cried out in pain.  To ease her pains, Uaithne played the Dagda’s healing harp, and when his first son was born, he named him Goltraí after his mother’s cry, and the music Uaithne played at his birth was thereafter called Goltraí – the Crying Strain.  At the birth of Boand’s second son, it was much easier and she laughed out loud for joy, and he was named Geantraí.  The music Uaithne played at his birth was forever known as Geantraí, the Laughing Strain.  The third birth was the easiest of all, and the River Goddess fell asleep to her husband’s harping and gave birth to her last son, whom Uaithne named Suantraí, and the music was known as the Suantraí, the Sleeping Strain.  All three sons became in their time, great harpers like their father, and it is from them that the harping traditions of Ireland and Scotland had their beginning.
Goltraí - Lamentatation. Geantraí - Joy. Suantraí - Serenity. Peace.

So my hope is that I will bring to life activism in not just the polarizing form of Goltrai, railing against what is wrong, nor even Geantrai, promoting what I perceive to be "good", but also (and perhaps most productively), Suantrai, in which a third way, a way of diffusing tensions, is applied, in hopes of bringing serenity to dialog and cooperation.

We all share this planet. Ultimately, we have to live side by side. To do so, we must find a way to understand one another. Our fears. Our needs. Our perspectives and notions of "good", even, of the divine.

If we hope to understand one another, we must be serene enough to speak and listen with the intention of informing, not convincing or judging.

Suantrai seems like a logical strain to harp on.

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