I think there are really just two choices in life: you live in love, or you live in fear. Either way, you walk through the fire. Yesterday I posted some thoughts on Monday’s bombings in Boston. Someone wrote in that she was angry. Of course. Anger is a completely sane and valid response. None of us want to live in a world where we have to wonder if it’s safe to watch our loved ones cross the finish line at a marathon or drop our kids off at school or go to a movie. These are all things we’d hope we could take for granted, but we can’t, not anymore. There’s violence all over the world, perpetrated every single day by people of all political leanings, nationalities, religions, colors, genders and ages. It’s a border-less, sadly human condition. The real question isn’t who’s at fault. The real question is, does violence exist within me, personally? Am I a peaceful human being, or am I participating in the cycle of violence? That’s what you can work on.
Trying to blame the state of the world on any one person is absurd. On any one political party. On any one country or religion or race. This is a human, global issue. We got ourselves into this mess together, and we’re going to have to get ourselves out of it together. You cannot solve it with more violence. That’s what we’ve been doing, and I would hope at this juncture we could all agree it’s not working out too well for us. We’re hurting each other and we’re hurting our planet, the place where we live.
There’s the home within us, right? The home you’re going to live in for your whole life, your body. Your internal dialogue is going to be your constant companion. Whatever you grow inside yourself is what you’re going to spread as you move through the world around you. If you’re in fear and anger, that’s what you’ll be spreading. If you’re in love, you’ll be spreading love. What do you think we need out there? More anger? More violence? More separation? The same person who said she was angry also refuted my assertion that we all love our children. She said some people strap bombs to their children and that isn’t love. I’ve never heard of a parent strapping a bomb to their child. Not ever. If that’s happened, that’s a parent who is so full of anger and hatred they can’t see straight. Who’s lost that deeply rooted evolutionary, biologically-induced determination to protect and nurture his or her child. I’ve heard about parents raising their children with the belief that Americans are terrible people who deserve to die and that life on earth is not important, it’s the after-life that matters, and I’ve heard of American parents who teach their children that people of other colors and religions who speak different languages and pray to different gods or no god should be hated and also deserve to die.
Sometimes these kids grow up to become young adults who strap bombs to themselves, under some false idea that it honors their country or their god or their parents. If you’ve raised your child to believe there’s something honorable in taking his or her own life and the lives of others in a brutal, senseless, violent way, then I’m very sorry, but you are blowing it as a person and a parent. You’re blowing it because you’re choosing fear instead of love and you’re feeding that diet to your open-minded, openhearted child and you are participating and prolonging the violence. If you didn’t teach that to your child, but you gave birth to someone who came to believe that due to circumstances, events and conditions no one could prepare for, see coming, or manage, then you did not blow it. You were given a set of circumstances no one should judge from the outside and you deserve a lot of compassion.
Fear closes us off and shuts us down. Teaching hatred is the sign of a very broken heart, and it will only perpetuate the cycle of alienation, destruction and violence. The idea that there’s an “us” and a “them.” The only way to understand where someone is coming from is to truly try to see things from their perspective. To drop your own highly ingrained beliefs, opinions, projections and assumptions for just a few minutes, and really listen and truly consider a different point of view.
How might you feel if you grew up in a completely different environment? Most people can’t listen deeply to someone with a different set of core beliefs because it’s scary or it feels intolerable to drop their viewpoint, even briefly. Who am I without my highly ingrained beliefs? Without my opinions and projections and memories? You know who you are without that stuff? You’re me. I’m you. That’s the point. You want to identify yourself as Democrat. Republican. Christian. Muslim. Jew. Palestinian. Black, White. Male. Female. American. Saudi Arabian. Chinese. Try this instead. You are a human being living on planet earth and your anger and your labels will not save you from the very vulnerable experience of being human. Of violence and loss and grief and pain so deep it makes your head spin. Of heartbreak and confusion and shame and despair. It also won’t save you from having your heart opened in ways you couldn’t imagine until you felt it happen. It won’t save you from the crushing gratitude you’d have to feel if you were awake and alive to all that’s encompassed in being a human being on planet earth. For every one person who seeks to create death and destruction, there are thousands who go running toward people in pain. To offer a hand. Their coat. Their phone, their home, the food in their refrigerator. People are good.
I don’t know who put those bombs at the finish line, and so far, neither does anyone else. It could be an American. It could be someone from another country. It doesn’t matter. Whoever it was, it’s a person in a lot of pain. Someone who’s very confused about life. About how to be a human being on the only planet we all share. As someone else said yesterday, “We aren’t okay until we’re all okay.” Please don’t go to anger and stay there. If you’re angry, I get it. Use that anger to bring yourself back to love, to get fired up about how you can help to make the world within you and around you a more peaceful place to be. Teach your children that the space between them and anyone else is sacred and shouldn’t be polluted with hatred and judgment. With anger and blame. Choose love. Again and again and again. That’s how we heal ourselves, each other, and this beautiful but hurting world we live in. That’s how we become nothing more and nothing less than what we are: Incredibly gorgeous human beings on a spinning orb. Wishing that for everyone, and sending love in all directions,