They sit on thin straw mats covering the cement floor, two circles of young Darfuri refugee women wrapped in long colorful headscarves, huddled together conspiratorially. One group, calling themselves “The Lions,” are careful to lower their voices so the group across the mat, the self-styled “Intelligent People,” won’t overhear their strategizing. They are two teams of Little Ripples preschool teachers, locked in a tight race on the last day of their mindfulness training in refugee camp Goz Amer. The team that can best demonstrate their skill at teaching what they’ve learned this week will win. Yasmine (Joslyn Hitter) and I, Tahani, pretend to be the children they’re teaching.
It’s a friendly but tough competition; everyone concentrates on putting forth their best effort. While both teams do a great job, it’s the Lions who finally triumph. The Intelligent People sigh and accept the verdict. Afterward, we all come together to appreciate what we’ve done during our time together. How different the spirit of this gathering is from the fierce election contest that took place recently in the United States, watched intently by the whole world.
The upset win of the ‘Lion’ unnerved and devastated many who considered themselves the ‘Intelligent People.’ And those whose candidate won feel vindicated and energized. No matter how we feel about the election, from the perspective of mindful awareness, whatever unmasks bias or prejudice in us is a wake-up call—to be welcomed, and learned from.
On this Thanksgiving, may we include in loving awareness everyone who needs care and protection—everyone. May we count our blessings with gratitude and grace. May we help ensure all people can enjoy the privilege of having shelter, reliable electricity, Wi-Fi, and running water, in their homes!! And good food to eat! May everyone have a chance to cherish and fulfill the immense promise of this life. May we vow to treasure and stand up for the rights of all beings, in every way we can.