Today I felt sad, because I learned about the hatred that led to the killings in South Carolina.
This gives me reason to ask everyone to take pause and reflect upon our own actions.
Without shame or guilt, let us reflect upon the harms we do. It is common for us to use economic advantage, personal connections, membership or position in organizations, or other individual personal power to the disadvantage of others. Without the context of relative individual judgment, these “smaller” acts are no more or less harmful than the acts of violence in that church. It is the context of relative judgment however, that makes our own transgressions and fear-based actions easier to ignore and justify.
We may justify our actions, or inaction, in the name of “severity”, but we know the truth. Any act of harm to another is the result of fear, and fearful thinking. However, our justifications distract us. The use of personal power to harm another, either on purpose or by accident, is simply so commonplace that it takes an extreme violence to wake us up at all.
We as a society agree that in some cases, harmful acts are evil. However, we still struggle with the ideas of “severity” and “justification.” Even today, we cannot agree by law that all acts of advantage over another based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, medical condition, age, or religious beliefs are a form of abuse.
For my part I am today reminded of all the harm I have seen and done. I am contemplative of how my place in society perpetuates continued harm against the poor and the ill.
I am saddened by my own acts as much as by those of this single gunman. If I let go of my guilt, shame, and other self-deprecating attitudes, I can see it clearly. Without fear or judgment, I can know that all of the abuse, neglect, and harm has stemmed from fear. However, when I seek clarity and understanding, and desire to remove all fear from my life, I can begin to end my part in it. Amongst all the teachings of our spiritual masters, we will find a common thread. When we seek their wisdom, we will uncover the single unrelenting truth that will free us.
The source of negative emotions that drives us to act against another is the same source that drives us to act against ourselves. All of it comes from a belief in our own inherent unworthiness.
Perhaps you think the opposite — that mastery over another is a form of personal power? That by advantage in this life, you will be safer, happier, and better off?
It is only cover story you have tricked yourself into believing.
The need for advantage over another is based on a belief that you will not be safe, happy, or better off without winning, defeating, mastering, or destroying another.
No amount of these acts can ever repair the damage inside that leads us to take such measures. We cannot increase our self-worth at the cost of others. It is not a zero-sum game.
Fear is the basis of all discrimination and the negative attitudes that proliferate the thinking that leads to such acts. This fear is based exclusively on our low self-worth.
To end violence, we all have to learn, and believe in, our inherent self-worth.
We cannot do this by thinking and acting alone. I am that which is in you, and you are that which is in me. We are one under heaven, and none of us can rise above another in the eyes of our true selves and the eyes of our creator.
Recently I wrote on this blog:
If I am to realize my potential and draw upon the source of love and life, I must start with a firm belief in my own inherent worth. I must believe that I am [enough]. This is what Don Miguel Ruiz is telling me [in his book The Four Agreements]. Nothing about me is to be talked or thought about as bad, missing, or damaged. I am that I am. I am the source of my own perceptions, and thus the definer of my reality.
If you reflected upon the killings in South Carolina and judged the evil acts done by one person, did you find your own sense of superiority therein? Did you judge him as unworthy? Did you see that in this sense of superiority and separateness from him, you are participatory in the system that leads to such fear and anger?
I would have us let go of superiority, arrogance, fear, anger, guilt, shame, and remorse, for they serve no one. Let me instead look for the loving thing to do.
By this I do not mean to be passive or participatory in being abused. On the contrary, I believe we must seek out those who would do violence and help them. I will not just let someone abuse me, but neither will I justify my own abuse of them in the name of self-defense. I will seek out and love those who are struggling. I will care for them in their pain and suffering, be that in helping the homeless, or consoling a friend. I will give my time in the aid of others, and I will be a healing source in the world.
Police, jails, and courts are a sign of our failure to love one another. These are last-ditch efforts to stem the violence so it will not become integrated in our government, military, or social systems as it has in human history. Such brutal systems cannot be the answer, but they are also not the problem. The problem is our societal ignorance of the issues of low self-worth and the pervasive institutional thinking that prevents us from healing and growing. Racism and hatred against others is with us today because we seem to be unwilling as a society to face up to the fact that everyone is worthy.
We cannot be the help to others until first we seek out help ourselves.
I ask you to stop, think, and feel. Start with yourself. Find the source of your anxiety, fear, anger, and negative reactions. Seek out help. At any cost to your personal image, and against any belief you hold to the contrary, find time and places to heal.
Go get the healing that will help you develop and restore an inherent sense of self-worth. Trust that if you seek it, you will find a way to reduce your fears of failure, powerlessness, and belief that you are inherently unworthy and unlovable. If you seek long enough, you will discover that all those negative judgments and fears you have about others stem from this same wellspring of negative emotions.
YOU ARE WORTHY! YOU ARE MY FRIEND! I AM ON YOUR SIDE! I LOVE YOU! I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS!