While in judo class in ninth grade, my practice partner somehow did the wrong move and kicked my knee out from under me. That eventually led to three knee operations throughout my high school career. Two weeks away from heading off for the California high school badminton championship, I instead found myself needing knee surgery!
I still remember how cruel some of the kids in school were. Instead of helping me carry my books, they formed a line behind me mimicking how I looked while walking with crutches down the school hallways. It was an important and painful lesson for me. It taught me the supreme value of being inclusive rather than making someone into an object of ridicule.
One of Jazi’s great gifts in Bee-Coming Strong is that she is very open to life. She’s interested and curious about her new friend Lydah Butter Fly, fascinated by how tall the grass has grown overnight, talks with Tree and her queen, MamaQueenzieBee, to try to understand things that upset her, and ends up saving the day because she’s willing to be inclusive. If she could, she’d buzz her love and enthusiasm around the world.
The extraordinary Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a peace activist, author, poet, and profound spiritual leader coined the term interbeing, meaning we are all interconnected. Nothing stands apart from anything else. It’s a mistake to think we are all separate, having no relation to one another, and thus, no need to try to understand someone who might look or act differently.
The wise Buddhist teacher, pastoral counselor, and author Pamela Ayo Yetunde’s latest book Casting Indra’s Net: Fostering Spiritual Kinship and Community emphasizes our interdependence. She encourages us to realize we are extensions of one another – that we are a part of one another. Ayo builds on the African philosophy of ubuntu, often translated as “I am because we are”. She teaches that we are all connected and that our own welfare is interconnected to that of others. We are part of a shared humanity. Our future existence depends on us realizing this truth. Interbeing, spiritual kinship, interconnectedness, ubuntu – these are not just nice concepts; they point to the reality of life.
So, what does all this have to do with Jazianzza’s adventures in Bee-Coming Strong? Why does Jazi want two-leggeds to consider this reality and teach it to children? For one thing, appreciating our interdependence would enable us as well as our children to look at bees with curiosity and respect rather than with fear. Much of what we eat depends on them! We would open ourselves to experiencing a greater connection with nature. This deeper understanding and appreciation of nature could move out through our personal interactions, helping us to realize we are all part of one another, no matter what we look like.
For Jazi, that would mean that her sisters wouldn’t laugh at her for wearing big glasses and having a bent antenna. For me, it could have meant that kids in school would want to help me navigate the hallways rather than make fun of me for looking like a crab as I walked. And for the world, it could mean that we raise children who appreciate the differences of others and who feel a natural kinship with all of life. They would want to protect, rather than bully. We could literally help change the world for the better, one child at a time, one hive at a time. Jazi would love that, and so would I. I suspect you would, too!
Here’s something you can do to help promote inter-bee-ing. It’s a fun art project where together you can make some bees out of rocks! Enjoy.
Wishing you a month of increased awareness of our collective inter-bee-ing,
Jazianzza and Anandamayi
“Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.”Thomas Merton
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