Here comes the proper blog post that I promised.
Today I had two very thought-provoking and inspiring conversations that reminded me of the power of intentions.
One was with a visual artist who used spent bullets–mostly .38- and .45-caliber shells–as foundations of her sculptures and installation art pieces. I can’t reveal too many details yet as I’m writing about her for a magazine (but you can take a sneak peek at her work through the photo below), but one part of our conversation stuck out that I feel I have to share. In talking about bullets and guns, and the roles that these have played in her evolution as a person and as an artist, she said, “In using bullets as a medium for my work, I realized that bullets are inert, guns are inert. It’s our intentions that determine whether these objects will be used to destroy or to create.”
She then added, laughing, “Even high heels can be used as deadly weapons, right?”
I laughed with her, but I tried to absorb the weight of what she was saying. She had been using objects originally meant to kill, hurt, and destroy to instead create, connect, and capture the intensity of human emotions and the struggle that exists within each of us. Her decisions in art had been shaped by experiences that would have destroyed her, but she chose otherwise and now her works have become powerful symbols and messages in themselves, transported and viewed around the world.
Even high heels can be used as deadly weapons–and so can words, glances, whispers. Even the softest things can hurt and kill if we infuse them with that intention. I know because, as someone who works with words, I know that I have used words to hurt others, and I have been hurt by these very same things, too.
When you think about it, words are nothing more than energy set on print or made to vibrate with sound, but their intentions give them their weight.
As the saying goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In my case, there were times when I didn’t need bullets and guns because I had a pen and words.
Then there was the other conversation, this time with–ironically–young officers of the Philippine Navy. We met about a talk that I’m supposed to do for them a few weeks from now, specifically about the need for personal change and transformation, and on the idea that the military and civilians can work together to create the kinds of communities that make us all trust in each other and feel a little bit safer. They spoke to me of initiatives that I haven’t heard of elsewhere in Philippine government (at least not that I know of), and I could see in their eyes and in their body language the sincere desire to reach out and be better public servants.
Of course, we inevitably spoke of some issues regarding perceptions of the military, and it once again brought my thoughts back to the subject of intentions. Our armed forces are armed and trained for a purpose, and they can use this for good, to protect others and serve the common good–or they can use their weapons and their training to hurt others and perpetuate a corrupt system. After all, “guns are inert,” my artist-subject, Ms. Turalba, had said, “It’s our intentions that determine whether these objects will be used to destroy or to create.”
An artist using objects meant for killing to instead create and give meaning. Men in uniform trained in the art of combat deciding to use their power to transform and improve society. Weapons being used for good–all born out of pure, sincere, positive intentions to build a better world.
Yet here some of us are, tearing people down and hurting others day in and day out because of our words and the tiniest of actions (or inaction).
It makes you wonder where your own thoughts and intentions are leading you, and what they are doing to and for others.
P.S. I finally had time to write while waiting for Body Balance class 🙂