Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Choose Peace

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the lives taken in Charleston, South Carolina. For the first time, I haven’t cared to read about the shooter’s background, whether or not he had a rough childhood, or how he learned to hate. I have no pithy statements. My heart is too heavy. Knowing his specific circumstances won’t revive the dead.
I thought differently a year ago when I decided to read Eliot Rodgers’ one-hundred and forty plus page manifesto last May. I’ll never get the hour of horror back as I kept saying, “This can’t get any worse.” What I took away from it was he was wrong in the head. Not mentally ill wrong. He believed he was entitled to certain things, simply because he was a man. And I really mean, entitled due to the fact that he was born. When he couldn’t have the things he felt entitled to (i.e. other people), he got angry and took it out on the world.
He didn’t know what he was doing was wrong because he didn’t believe it was wrong. And that’s what happened, again. So what do you do with people who don’t believe racism or sexism is wrong? What do we do with people who are angry at the world because it doesn’t exist the way they think it should? In my opinion, that is not mental illness.
I no longer believe knowing everything about what the shooter was thinking will give us any insight to help stop the next act of senseless violence. I am certain there will be more. [I agree with Jon Stewart, that this wasn’t a tragedy. This was an act of American terrorism.] There will always be circumstances and explanations. There will always be a “reason” that makes sense to no one but the murderer. And in the end, we will still be left with the loss and grief.
Nine precious lives were snuffed out, in their sacred space, in their temple. And that is where my heart is, with the loss of those lives and the realization that a twenty-one year old thought nothing of taking them. One young man stepped into his place in the world as an adult by taking nine lives. It boggles my brain, like I don’t even understand the words I’m writing out. They stretch out and twist in my gut and I am wary of others who display violent anger.
Anger isn’t a mental illness. Racism isn’t a mental illness. Excusing a murderer as mentally ill because they were angry is a disservice to the people who handle their anger every day. In our culture anger is easy, and we all work our way to the place of why we need to handle our own anger and stop making it anyone else’s problem.
I understand anger. I used to have an angry heart, like anger-ball, explodes-in-milliseconds heart. Beneath that I wanted peace, but I was so broken by my experiences in the world I thought it was impossible. I didn’t want to be angry. It was eating me up from the inside and it was infecting my relationships.
I had a small awareness that I was looking at the world and waiting for it to make itself better for me, so that my sensitive soul could fit in it. I didn’t realize that if I wanted the world to be a more peaceful place, I needed to feed it love, not fear. I needed to feed it peace, not hate. I needed to feed the world peace.
You can change your wiring. You can change your emotional responses to stimulation. It’s not easy but I’ve done it. The trick is you don’t let go of your anger and fill it with something else (like reparations or justice). It isn’t a give and take. You transform that anger into something new. You can’t expect to receive anything in the place of letting it go. You don’t let it go. You change it.
It doesn’t make being in the world-as-it-is easier, but the more I release my anger, the more I sink into our interconnectedness. The more I sink in, the more I see every life as the same, the more kindness I have for strangers. After all, if I want to live according to my beliefs, I have to accept that everyone else I see does, too. The only belief I think we must all share is that we cannot harm other living beings.
These shooters, these American terrorists, are disconnected from that web. They don’t see everyone as the same. They don’t give everyone the same worth. But we do. We can. And it starts with feeding the world our kindness, patience, and peaceful hearts, and allowing that to heal our angry, vengeful, anxious hearts, so that we may walk the earth leaving peace in our wake. Wakes ripple outward.
When faced with anger or love, I choose love. When faced with violence or peace, I choose peace. When faced with teachable moments, I speak up to diffuse angry moments before they can escalate.
I have had violence and rage directed at me. I do not want to be the cause of that pain and grief in anyone else’s life. When I anger, I feed it down to the earth through the soles of my feet, not out into the air with my words and breath.

“Sometimes we wait for others and think that Martin Luther should raise among us and Nelson Mandela should raise among us and speak up for us but we never realize that they are normal humans like us and if we step forward we can also bring change just like them.”  ~Malala Yousafzai, 17, Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan

1 comment:

  1. I love your spirit, but you already knew that. My thoughts and feelings on this parallel yours, and I, too, have no desire to delve into the shooter's background. We need to start to see the bigger picture if we're ever going to save humanity and the planet, otherwise, we're doomed on every level. We have to emit love. We have to.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.