For centuries men and women have fought for what we believe to be worthy of self-sacrifice. In recent American history alone, we see the fight for Independence, the abolition of slavery, the vote for women, and equal rights for all people regardless of faith, race, sex, or sexual orientation. We have been fighting for freedom since the earliest days of slavery in lands far away, before the discovery of the western hemisphere.
Humankind has fought battles for land, liberty, and basic freedoms, but fought with whom? Ourselves. We have raised arms against our own kind in power struggles to what end? Any demonstration of war, of any kind, in the world is a mere out picturing of the internal battles of the human psyche, and the fighting has brought us only more fighting.
I am grateful for those who have taken a stand for liberty, the founding fathers of my homeland, my darker skinned brothers and sisters who outlasted the tyranny of oppression, my sisters in the suffrage movement who made it possible for me to easily cast my vote in the past election.
But why did they even have to fight? Who invented the concept that some humans are more equal than others? Who invented the idea that some people are worthy of liberty, while others are destined to a life of lack and limitations?
These are concepts were invented by humankind for selfish personal gain. These are the thoughts of an untaught child, who has yet to be shown the concept of sharing.
The problem is that these underdeveloped levels of consciousness are parading around in disguise as reasonable adults. We see a forty-something year old man, perhaps successful in the world, and we assume that he has reached a certain level of maturity, but that is often not the case. We see a woman, who might be a thriving businessperson and/or a mother of happy children, and we assume she is as much an adult internally as she is from outward appearances. This is often a misconception.
Now we find ourselves in a war against terror. How can this war ever be won, if people do not refuse to be terrified? Wouldn’t that seem to be the first line of defense? And yet our own media and past government has profited both monetarily and influentially by the escalation of terror.
The only way to create a world free of terror is to stop believing that terror exists. When we cease being terrified, terrorism dies, regardless of the conditions around us.
I understand the audacity of this idea, having never experienced first hand the fear of being on an exploding street, or seeing friends and loved ones slain by a violent temper tantrum of the ones we have come to call terrorists. I see them as misbehaving children in diapers, screaming and throwing their toys to get attention. They think the way of violence is the answer because sometime in their lives they were taught that violence is the answer. What if they had been taught otherwise? I have come to think that violence is a developmental problem.
The issue I find challenging to resolve within myself is how to mange individuals whose level of consciousness has yet to evolve to a place of understanding that physical violence is not the answer to life’s conditions. There are those who would harm fellow humans based on an underdeveloped level of consciousness which still operates from a caveman place of clubbing their opponent for a piece of fruit, when all they have to do is break it open and share.
Our answer thus far has been to engage the behavior with like behavior, meeting the terrorist at their own level of violent development, which lowers the higher level of consciousness to a war mentality and ends the same way every time, with blood on the grounds, and invisible wounds in the hearts and minds of those sincerely fighting for what they believe is right.
The next frontier in causes worth fighting for is the cause of facilitating an expanded consciousness, which would not even entertain the idea of war. This is the only means to a peaceful planet.
I have heard brilliant philosophers say that there will never be a time when war does not exist, because people will always have to go through the levels of developing consciousness to reach a place of understanding, and that includes the level of proving personal power, the value meme of war.
I say, let that level of development happen in childhood, as it did with the Dali Lama when he played with his war toys, supervised by his teachers who showed him the error in his thinking.
One of our most widespread dysfunctions as a human race is that the war mentality has been nurtured, encouraged, and seen as noble. Service is noble, indeed, but becoming that which we say we are against to prove a point is pointless.
Many of us have given away, or in many cases have yet to claim our most basic and undeniable liberty; that of free thought. We have adopted hand-me-down beliefs without question to become pawns in a game set in motion by a consciousness that came before our own. This is nothing of which to be ashamed. We have all done it at some point in our young lives. It is how we learned to navigate in the world.
But there comes a time for personal responsibility, which lies beyond any thought or idea we have adopted as our own, to question the source from where the thought came to be in our minds, and why we have believed it to be true.
It is comfortable to live in an unquestioned world, but if we do not sincerely get to know our own thoughts, and begin to make choices from a more developed level of consciousness than the ones we’ve inherited, we are doomed to repeat the violent history of our ancestors.
Personal responsibly for the development of our collective consciousness cannot be measured by the passing of a bill, or a constitutional amendment. Governmental law cannot nor should it mandate it. It is “we the people” who must continue to stretch ourselves toward the ideal, and begin to hold ourselves responsible for living our most authentic lives, seeing through the illusion of egoist power struggles and violence.
These are lofty ideas, but most of the great ones are just that.
If we are to truly heal our world and move forward we must choose to forgive all who have caused us harm.
I carried a stone of revenge in my heart for many years. I wanted to cause pain to the man whom had sexually abused me as a child. I wanted him to suffer as I felt I had suffered. I believed he had robbed me of my childhood innocence, and in some ways, he did. My home was torn apart in the aftermath of the abuse. It was traumatic seeing my parents struggle with how to handle their own feelings about having allowed, on some level, a pedophile to watch their child. By listening to the religious doctrine of my youth, I learned to be ashamed for “lying naked with a man,” though I was just a child at the time. I was tormented by nightmares, frequently waking up screaming in the middle of night. I was living in a hell on earth.
I wore the sash of “Victim” into my twenties, and then traded it in for the banner of “Angry,” then “Survivor.” Now I am practicing the art of Grace. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” I lay it all down and surrender the fight. I do this over and over and over, until it becomes my dominant reality. A wise man once suggested we forgive seventy times seven times to attain ultimate forgiveness. I say, that is a good start. Today, I forgive the young man who hurt the little girl I once was, and wish him a peaceful heart. I pray he has forgiven himself. I pray this for all people as I forgive myself today, as I did yesterday, and will do tomorrow.
Each day, I sit in a moment of bliss, envisioning a world where war and power struggles are a distant memory of humanity’s collective history, a world where causing harm to any living being seems barbaric and unthinkable. I envision a world where all of our children have homes, all of the homes have food, all of the food is nourishing. I envision a world where we learn to express personal power in healthy ways as children, and move quickly beyond it, so that we no longer raise adult leaders who play with real toy soldiers with real guns causing harm and pain to some other mother’s son or daughter.
Gandhi said to “Be the change we wish to see in the world.” This is more than a T-Shirt logo, bumper sticker slogan, or marketing concept. It is making actual choices with our being, thoughts, and actions. It takes practice, which is why we need the great wisdom traditions to show us the ways of those positive change makers who came before us, and our contemporaries who continue to uncover new traditions of wisdom from which future generations might benefit.
And so we march onward in a cause of utmost importance, singing songs of personal Liberation along the way. We march in the cause of raising the collective consciousness of humanity. The only way to do that is to first raise the consciousness that lives within ourselves, and the only way to do that, is to find the silence that speaks volumes beyond what any book, blog post, or family tradition can teach us.
In the silence, we find The Source of it all… timeless wisdom. Something about us changes, and we expand beyond what we once thought possible, taking yet another step in the march for Liberation.
I am grateful to know you are marching along side me. Godspeed on your journey.