'In this world of darkness, so we must shine
You in your small corner and I in mine.' (Susan B Warner)
SO you switch on the TV and what do you get? The horrific news of yet another child abduction, the senseless shooting of a young teenage Muslim, further allegations of child abuse....need I go on?
How do we react? What do we do when we come face to face with evil? What is our first response?
To blame? To judge? To condemn? To demand justice, retribution, punishment? Or is it to recoil? To deny it, excuse it or minimize it in some way?
It seems to me that neither of these two responses is particularly helpful. Adding more hatred, more fear, more misunderstanding, more anger into a situation that is already rife with these will only add more weight and substance to that which is already there. And if we resist evil? Then it only persists, simmering away and raising its ugly head again at some later stage, demanding that we pay it some attention.
SO what other response is there? Where can we go and what can we do with the anger, the grief, the pain and the disgust that evil provokes in us? Is there a third way to respond?
I think there is. If we allow ourselves to sit with our emotions and actually feel them in all their intensity without the need to fuel them with angry comments and accusations then I believe that our emotions will change. They will be transformed into a higher version of themselves.
HATE will become COMPASSION
FEAR will become LOVE
ANGER will become a desire for FAIRNESS
SADNESS will become EMPATHY
JUDGEMENT will become UNDERSTANDING
This is because we are wired for LIFE not DEATH. Psychologists speak of such a thing called the organismic valuing process whereby humans have an inbuilt mechanism for growing into the best version of themselves. It is our minds that interfere with natural process. Our minds love to JUDGE and COMPARE; to separate things into RIGHT and WRONG, GOOD and BAD, BETTER or WORSE. Why is this? Is it because at a deep level we all struggle with the unconscious fear that there is something wrong with us? If this is so then when we see the failings of others does this trigger our own deep seated fear and sense of inadequacy and the only way we can cope with it is to become SELF RIGHTEOUS - that is to make ourselves right by making others wrong; make ourselves acceptable by making others unacceptable? If so then surely we owe it to ourselves and to society to find ways to break free from this unhealthy way of living?
It is easier to judge. It is easier to point the finger of blame. Easier to retaliate with hatred than to cultivate a loving compassion for all mankind. Yet this is what I believe we are called to do. It's what Jesus meant when he said we were to love our enemies as ourselves.
I am NOT advocating that those who commit evil deeds are given a free reign to do so. NO! There ought and should be consequences to their actions. Our world needs clear boundaries but adding hatred, either in the way of thoughts, words or deeds, to something or someone already full of hatred will not bring about the change we desire.
Ghandi said we must become the change we want to see in the world. This is our greatest challenge. If we want to see goodness, peace, love and joy FLOURISH we must cultivate this in ourselves first until we know beyond a shadow of doubt that at our core we are inherently good. Then and only then will we be able to tackle evil from a proper perspective.
The dark will not be overcome by adding more dark only by adding LIGHT.
And so the INVITATION remains. Are we willing to become candles burning in the night or are we happy to remain in the shadows wondering how we can go on living in a world so full of darkness?
WE HAVE A CHOICE and it is TIME to CHOOSE!
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but calling never hurt me!"
So goes the old school ground chant but IS IT TRUE!!!
It appears not. Words are sound vibrations and there have been studies that show these vibrations can have an effect on the molecular structure of water.
The work of a Japanese researcher and healer Masaru Emoto reveals to us the power of the spoken word. According to his research when water was subjected to positive words such as "I love you" or "Thank you" it showed a different molecular structure than water that had been treated with negative words such as "You fool" or "I hate you."
The water molecules that had received positive words displayed a structure of beautiful hexagonal crystals whereas the water that had received negative words did not form crystals at all but rather showed messy, fragmented structures.
As the human body is composed of between 60 - 80% water it is reasonable to assume that our molecular structure will be greatly affected too by the words that we hear and even words that we think, as thoughts too have their own vibrations.Walk into any room that has just witnessed an argument and you can literally FEEL the vibes. Words, it seems, leave an imprint behind them.
Casting my mind back to my childhood I can see how this relates to me. I remember once on holiday a lady was singing songs with a group of children. She was making up rhymes to go with the children's names. When it was my turn she sang, "Janet, Janet who thought she could but cannot" and when everyone laughed it was like a knife in my back. I carried the imprint of that remark long into my adult world struggling for a long time with a lack of belief in my own ability. I literally took on a 'can't do' attitude that was hard to shift and was the cause of many on going problems for me.
Of course as children we lack the cognitive ability of adults and therefore are unable to reason and think things through the way an adult would. If I had heard this remark as an adult I might have been able to shrug my shoulders and pass it off without it affecting me as strongly as it did. However I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us pass off similar remarks in our every day life but that this passing off is often just surface deep and can mask a hurt that has still lodged itself somewhere deeper within our bodies or minds.
Are we willing to take the chance that our often casual, off the cuff remarks won't cause pain of some kind to the people that hear them? Or are we willing to believe that our words do have the power to harm or heal and therefore consciously take on the task of trying to speak more considerately and kindly to each other?
I am not talking here about slick remarks or false flattery. Our words should be genuine and authentic and we need to be aware that the intent behind our words carries as much power as the words themselves. However surely it is not beyond us to find ways to speak our truth that don't involve inflicting pain on others?
I leave you with this:
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
T is it TRUE
H is it HELPFUL
I is it INSPIRING
N is it NECESSARY
K is it KIND
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.