When I was three years old, a member of our parish community was kidnapped and held hostage in Beirut for seven years. Each day his picture was on the front page of the local paper, along with a count of how many days he had been missing.
That was my normal.
When he was released, he came to my elementary school and talked with all of us about his experiences. Which was also my normal. I'm not sure if long-term hostages typically make the elementary school circuit, or if God just has a tremendous sense of humor and thought in her infinite wisdom that I could use a few more things to front-load my impending mid-life crisis. Regardless, I recall everything he told us in excruciating detail.
The worst day was the day his glasses broke, and he could no longer see.
He was in solitary for a significant amount of the time.
He made chess pieces out of cheese and played with another man once they were in the same cell.
He said that what kept him alive was remembering – absolutely every single thing he could. Stories. Nursery rhymes. Songs.
This memory struck me tonight, as my yoga teacher shared a little quote from a book about the holocaust. Perhaps yoga theming based on desperate moments in history strikes you as bizarre as Tom Sutherland doling out hostage survival tips to elementary school students, but the two made peace in my mind as I realized that this kind of work is now essential.
We are currently in a hostage situation – the man at the helm of this great nation has no use of facts, and so it is incumbent upon all of us to remain vigilant. Yoga teachers need not get political, as that ship has sailed, but we can – should – must – keep the lessons of history, of science, of liberty alive as the sanity of the masses erodes in the wake of lies and abusive behavior.
Now is the time to study and speak.
The most radical and responsible thing we can do