November 13, 2015. My husband’s text stared up harshly at me, waking a familiar, aching pain in my soul. “Paris is under attack.” November 13, 2015. This date is now added to a long list of tragic events that will change the course of our history. I make a mental note to now keep those who were affected and the families mourning the loss of their loved ones in my thoughts and prayers.
I have become numb to this news. Gone is the initial shock and disbelief, for the question is no longer “How could someone do this, is this really happening”, but “When and where will be the next tragedy”? I avoid the news like the plague. I shut down stories of hate and death in an effort to protect my heart from the pain. And like always, when stories like these unfold, I battle with myself, torn between wanting to educate myself on the events in our world and shielding myself from the inevitable heartbreak of lives lost far too soon.
Eventually the news will shift to stories about heroism and triumph. Memorials, foundations and aide will flood social media and areas affected. Already many profile pictures in my newsfeed have been shrouded with France’s flag or replaced with images meant to show support. Over time, we will return to our lives and TimeHop will remind us to take a moment each subsequent year to pause and reflect on the anniversary of yet another tragic day in our history. When the next catastrophe happens, in hushed tones we will compare it to the amount of lives lost in the previous disaster and hug our loved ones a little tighter.
And we will be divided. Democrats against Republicans. Americans vs fill-in-the-blank. Pro-gun against anti-gun. We will point fingers and attempt to place blame. We will seek answers in our anger and blindly lash out at others. We will call for change and action, yet we will limp unremarkably forward, steadfast in our dedication to preservation. We will prove yet again that we have not learned how to heal ourselves.
I know how you feel in these moments. My pain is your pain, my fear yours, because we are one. Sadly, we have not learned globally that we are one. I can only speak to trends in America from the perspective of a middle-class Caucasian girl from Connecticut, but I feel the confusion in emptiness echoed in others through trends in our media right down to the clients who enter my office. We can not ignore that we are disconnected. We can not ignore that our values have changed, our individualism has skyrocketed and materialism is King. It is not my fault, it is not your fault, it is our fault. I am guilty of judgments, of sticking my head in the sand, of avoiding connecting to the universal soul. I am guilty because you are too.
We can not heal until we love openly and without limits. We can not love until we remove hate. We can not connect until we release judgements that divide. Your politics do not matter. How much money you have does not matter. Where you live does not matter. Your iPhone does not matter. The driver that cut you off, the raise you did not get, the lover who betrayed you – irrelevant. Look around you. The people next to you matter. The people down the street, in the house next door, in the next town/state/country matter. They are flesh and blood, they share this planet, they are life. You are no better or worse than they, and they no better or worse than you.
I ask you to bravely face the truth. In the midst of our deepest tragedies, hold your fear and open yourself to the pain. Acknowledge your anger and confusion. Being present with our emotions is terrifying, but it is the only way to not be ruled by them. Break the cycle of reactivity that perpetuates our tragedies by mastering the ability to remain calm in the height of our fiercest storms. Sink into the fear and pain. And then choose to release it. The antidote for hate is love. The solution to darkness is light. Combat your pain with love and forgiveness, for this is the only way you will every truly experience peace. Until this is understood with every fiber of our being, we will not actually heal. It is with this knowledge that I know I must love even harder. Every day I must choose the light with more conviction. Every moment I must live with purpose and passion. Because when I love, you love. We are one.
With Humble Gratitude,
Writer’s Note: Take time to examine your beliefs and behaviors. Maybe you have changed your social media to show support for Paris. That is only a microcosmic step in what you are capable of. Challenge yourself to commit DAILY to a practice of love and support. Do you pass judgement on those you interact with in your day to day life? Do you show disdain at the new neighbors because they are “those” people? Do you label entire groups of individuals as “bad” based on their beliefs simply because they are not your own (i.e. Democrats, Republicans, Muslims, Catholics)? Do you criticize others for their appearance or struggles they have that you know nothing about (i.e. those who choose not to eat gluten, those who are socially awkward)? Commit to observing and stopping these behaviors and beliefs. Be honest and gentle with yourself, this is not about finding shame in your humanity. This is taking a mindful, meaningful and purposeful step in changing a global crisis. This is not condoning acts of violence or hate, or avoiding justice and accountability. This is honoring your humanity, and the humanity in others. This is raising the vibration of love in your life and spreading it across the world.