“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.” ― Pema Chödrön
with my catering hat and apron on, i worked a fund raiser for harm reduction action center (hrac). hrac is a local advocacy organization which has been tirelessly working to address the stigma around iv drug use and the public health risks involved in that lifestyle. they have successfully advocated and navigated the system to get syringe access and naloxone access to the urban centers in our state. no doubt, overdose numbers have been reduced as have transmissions of hiv/hcv. it was a sweet night for the hrac team to regroup and refocus. and there were teams of city, state, and public health program liaisons were present to support and witness this ongoing effort. i had fun. and without question, hrac has saved lives and opened hearts and minds in colorado.
it also got me thinking. life really is all about harm reduction. our culture’s emotional life i mean. there is so much that is tough about living. we experience pain and loss at so many turns. don’t get me wrong. i am very conscious of the joy of living and breathing and the wonders of exploring life on a daily basis. but that mister bright side of life has a dark side too.
that would be harm. hurt. trauma. disease. loss. i could go on. some days it seems the trick in all this- the balancing act is minimizing the harm with which we have to carry. our western culture does seem to have built industries around harm reduction. insurance companies, security services, private investigators, gated communities and the list goes on.
in sharp contrast to the majestic intention involved with harm reduction and public health policies, when it comes to spiritual growth, safety may just be a crutch. and a crutch is meant to assist wounded people heal. it’s not necessarily meant to keep frightened folks feel safe.