Sending you love and peace today, Celebrationists.
1.) I am grateful for an energizing first week of rehearsal for Peter and the Starcatcher
2.) I am grateful for this lovely day off – filled with FaceTime dates, happy hours of creativity, chiropractic wonders, delicious curry, and delightful company
3.) I am grateful that healing is finding its way to a very close family member and friend who have had medical emergencies in the past few weeks
Today, for obvious reasons, I feel compelled to talk about violence and non-aggression. Sometimes we come together as a community during challenging and tragic times, creating powerful bonds of love and support – and sometimes we are overcome with a desire to shame, blame, and projectile-vomit our anger. Both of these impulses make sense, certainly. What breaks my heart though is when we project that shame and blame onto each other, when really, what we all want is the same, isn’t it?
If you’ve read this blog before, you may remember that I’m a huge fan of Pema Chodron. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I can’t recommend “When Things Fall Apart,” enough – it’s perfect for…well, you can tell from the title. But it is my humble opinion that everything she writes is pure gold, and you can find her many precious jewels of wisdom, here.
In response to recent horrific world events, Pema says the following:
“When I think about the tragedies in Paris and in Lebanon and in fact in many places in the world, It seems to me that’s it’s very clear that the cause is hatred. Therefore I feel for people that are committed to waking up and being of benefit to others, the key is for us is to not nurture hatred in our hearts. It may seem beyond many of us to feel compassion for the perpetrators, but probably the most important thing is for us to not add any more aggression to the planet, but to add as much open kindness and open heartedness as we can.”
If it’s true (and I believe it is) that the common root of all acts of violence is hatred (and fear), then I think it’s worth examining how hatred starts. When it’s just a tiny seed of a thing. Pre-hatred, practically. Like:
- A shame-filled facebook status
- An unkind or slanderous word about another, that makes us feel better about ourselves
- A harsh judgement about someone we don’t understand or who we’re a little afraid of
- An unwillingness to forgive
- Pitting people against one another for our personal advantage
- Shaming another person’s best efforts, in any area
- Condemning anyone who disagrees with our way of thinking because it makes us feel vulnerable
How often do we stop to consider how these tiny acts of day to day violence might have a larger impact beyond the present moment? It’s just so easy to break another person’s spirit. And what can a broken spirit lead to?
I have to say that one of the most disheartening Facebook statuses I came across in response to the recent attacks had to do with there being “no hope for humanity”. It made me deeply sad. If we have the power to cause each other to lose faith in humanity, don’t we also have the power to restore it? We can’t control other people. We can’t undo global damage. We can’t reacheveryone. But we can start with our own day to day contribution, and the ripple effect it has. How are we ever to know how far that ripple goes – in either direction?
If you could inspire one person through your actions – give one little bit of hope that goodness in humanity does exist, what might they be inspired to do? And on the other end, how do our little acts of unkindness eventually turn into not-so-little seeds (and then big honking plants) of hatred? And once that hatred has formed and hardened, what happens then?
And look. When such GIANT things are happening in the world, I think it’s also easy to feel some of the following:
- I can’t even begin to be able to make an impact
- The things I love/bring me joy (the sports I play, the art I make, etc) don’t matter and seem a little silly in all of this
- The world is a terrible place
- People are awful. I wish I were a Corgi.
But to that I say:
- We can make an impact. People do, every day
- The things that bring us joy can also bring joy to others – and our experiencing happiness and light does not dishonor the tragedies of the world. By sharing our gifts and our passions, we inspire others to do the same. By creating in the face of hardship and sadness, we provide the opportunity for others to experience beauty, escape, empathy, and connectedness
- The world is what we make it, and we can make it something different and new in our own small corner, every day
- Corgis are awesome, but humans have language and we can use that power for SO much good
Here’s what I think. Through the many complexities in these times, there’s a small kernel that I believe to be true, and it is that Peace being with ourselves, and change begins with me.
If you feel like spreading a little bit of hope this week – here are some acts of non-aggression, just a few ideas that might be worth trying (I’ll be trying!) They may not seem like much in the face of such enormity, but how do we really know what our impact is? And how small is too small to start?
- Reach out to someone who is having a hard time, and surprise them with something personal and meaningful
- Remind someone what they mean to you. Pick someone you haven’t told in awhile, or maybe ever
- The next time someone shares a view you don’t agree with, see what happens if you just listen and ask questions, instead of immediately jumping to a place of aggression and judgement
- Really consider the content you put out into the universe in the form of social media. Are you contributing to violent or peaceful thinking?
- Exercise patience with a person who drives you insane, and try to put yourself in their shoes
- Practice forgiveness – and that includes yourself
- When we feel the most vulnerable, explore what happens if we lean into that vulnerability and open-ness, raw as it is. What happens if we don’t engage in our usual habit of closing off, shutting down, and putting up our walls?
- When we feel the impulse to take something personally, what if we choose to explore the idea that nothing others do is because of us? That other people’s responses to us are almost always a projection of their own reality? This is a dual kindness to the person we are encountering, and also ourselves
- When the impulse to complain arises, practice gratitude, instead. Write things down. Tell people. Verbalize and write your thanks. The more you do it, the more sincere it will become, until it’s habit/part of the fabric of your being
- When we feel compelled to make disparaging remarks about the world or other people, consider the power our words have on others. People who respect us, look up to us, or just regard us as peers – our own negativity might awaken some of their own doubts. If we’re going to be spreading something…why not spread hope, instead?
And let me be clear, none of this is meant to exclude everything we can do to make a difference on a larger scale. The ways we can reach out to victims of violence and raise awareness. But I also think there’s value in starting small – right where we are. Right here.
All my love to you this week, Celebrationists.
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