Since the self-solituding began for me five weeks ago, I find myself in the delicate balance between sheer terror and complete faith that all is well, even if it looks like the farthest thing from the truth. Having been through major losses (my husband, both parents and two dear friends in the past 21 years), […]
A friend posted something on her Facebook page, in which the discussion was about how she might answer a question from a child about social conscience and consciousness. The query, “What did you do, once you knew?”echoed in my mind as well. We are bombarded with input about tragedy and trauma that occur on a moment to moment basis all over the world. There is a temptation to deny the elephant in the room who is trumpeting loudly for our attention, since we reason that he or she won’t destroy the furniture if we ignore their presence. If you are reading these words, chances are, you are not hunkered down in a war zone. You have electricity to run your computer or a smart phone on which to see this missive. Hopefully, you have a full belly, clean clothes, a roof over your head and people you love who love you. Your challenges may be what I think of as ‘First World Problems,’ which are minor in the scheme of things.
Once you know something, you can’t un-know it.
Author Robert Fulghum puts it this way: “One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.”
Another person on her thread chimed in about ‘sacred activism’. Great term that I was searching for yesterday in response to a commentary on my page. For me, holding a space of peace and calm is not enough. Burning sage, chanting and meditating are not sufficient. Yes, meditation is important. Yes, seeing the light in all is important. In conversation with a friend, we spoke about viewng anyone about whom we have judgment, as an innocent baby to whom something damaging happened. That doesn’t excuse anti-social or otherwise reprehensible behavior. It leaves no room for any group to be threatened by bullies on a one to one or institutional level. I can take all of my spiritual tools and use them as a foundation, but they are not enough. I need to put legs under my ideals and walk my talk.
Do you default to spiritual bypass?
It is tempting to succumb to spiritual bypass with the idea that God will take care of it all. If that was so, many (including me), ponder how violence, war, children dying, abuse or natural disaster could be permitted to happen. My own faith has been tested often and the only answer I can come up with is that I have survived everything that has ever happened to me and have learned valuable lessons as a result. I have become stronger and more resilient. What if we were meant to be God’s hands to do this important work in the world?
In Judaism, there is a concept called Tikkun Olam, that translates to ‘repair of the world’. It calls on all people to do their part to put the broken places together. Ideally, folks would clean up after themselves so the job wouldn’t seem as overwhelming. Even more impressive would be for people to refrain from making unecessary mess in the first place. It is as simple as not dropping litter, or cigarette butts on the ground (or better yet, not smoking at all). It relates to being willing to take a stand for what they believe in. It means being in integrity with relationships. A friend uses the phrase, “Always leave the campground better than you found it,” which echoes a Boy Scout tenet. It means taking responsibility for our own actions and not blaming anyone else for our choices.
With all of those preparatory tasks, I am better able to go out into the world and walk my talk. I need frequent recalibration, when I slip into anger and resentment and seeing those who intentionally do harm as ‘other’. While anger can be a motivating force and a tool, it can also be wielded as a weapon.
I know that many of my friends are indeed sacred activists who walk the talk. So, I ask you….what did you do, now that you knew?
I write. I speak out if I see someone being bullied or otherwise mistreated. I counsel clients who are struggling with the outcome of the election and the state of the world in general. I hug as the founder of Hugmobsters Armed With Love. I go to rallies and vigils. I sign petitions. I have begun to teach mindfulness for little ones (two-five year olds) and feel honored to guide them toward pro-social behavior. We learn (I do too) about kindness and compassion, taking care of each other and the planet, loving ourselves, in part, so we can love others better. My hope is that it sets them on a trajectory that will indeed heal the world.
I think of Phil Och’s song that informs my marching orders; peaceful warrior that I am.