'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!
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.