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The modern world is certainly difficult to take at times. Tsunamis, nuclear power plant disasters, major storms that kill numerous people, wars that drag on forever, economic meltdowns, environmental destruction- including oil spills, global warming, air pollution, crime wars, etc. can get one pretty depressed. Some of these we can do little about, but others- like wars, pollution, economic meltdowns, and many others seem to stem at least in part from human stupidity and greed. There is no way to deny that life has, and always has had, its share of suffering, both inflicted by nature and by ourselves. It is thus easy to sink into a dark depression or to live in total denial. However neither attitude is helpful and I personally (having been there, done that) think that the Stoic, Taoist and Buddhist views that one must both face the reality of suffering and at the same time not let it lead to despair are more useful. Such views can be found in other philosophies and religions (the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible comes to mind) as well, but often they are ignored. In that vein Terry Tempest Williams in her book "Finding Beauty in a Broken World" is a great antidote for both unreasonable escape or despair.
In her book, Williams concentrates on the use of the mosaic as a metaphor for a broken world, starting with the mosaic artists of Ravenna and returning to them later. The mosaic artists take broken pieces and put the together to form a pattern that is often quite beautiful. In the middle of her book she explores two difficult topics - the destruction of the prairie dogs in North America and the genocide in Rwanda. In both she finds some redemption for the people and animals involved, while looking directly and unsparingly at the tragedies.Read more ›
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