I was pulled over by the police last year. I had four infractions, was rude and impatient with the cop and, instead of shooting me, he cited me only on the least of the infractions and then told me how I could get out of paying the fine. So that tells you two things. First, the temperament of good cops. If this guy were on a power trip he'd have hit me at least with my speeding infraction to pay me back for my bitchy attitude. And second, possibly more germinally, the difference it makes being white—and, in this case, a woman—in today's society.
The crux of my post was going to be that all sides—blacks, whites, cops, Muslims, NRA members, gays, children, adults, Republicans, Democrats, you name it—have legitimate reasons (from their perspective) to be afraid these days. This is the most unstable our country has been in our lifetime and probably since the Great Depression. A lot of points of history are repeating at once, from civil rights and massive division in society to government corruption and xenophobia.
America's dark side is showing. And the only way to combat darkness is light. Love conquers fear, yes. But not before a lot of painful shit goes down. So that's where we are.
Just prior to all of this, I had spent some quality time with my own darkness. And I decided to treat myself better. So not delving into the darkness in society today for hours as I write is treating myself better. It's a matter of saving myself first, like they tell you to do on airplanes. And treating myself better also had me finding and reading some old journals of mine.
I've mentioned before that, for years, I would wake before the sun, drive to the river and watch the sunrise. It was a sacred practice a couple or few times a week, and I've shared some of the stories from those journals here before. There were many purposes to it, but chief among them were a) getting spiritual messages from nature and b) practicing my descriptive writing skills...honing my craft.
So I got to reading some of those recently and found a gold mine of wisdom...haha. I chose one at random to share with you today. To quote myself:
"It's a summer morning at the end of spring. We've just been through a heat spell of three-digit humitures. Today is supposed to be the last day. It's 80 degrees and humid at 7am. The river is still. Devoid of a breeze. A few fish are jumping. But the river looks cloudy today. Uninviting. Lifeless.
What is interesting is the dew on the grass. Distinct little droplets cling to the blades, bending them ever so slightly under their weight. A process that we might not even notice or think about is, in actuality, a necessary and sacred symbiotic relationship. In the heat and dryness of the earth, the grass remains supple and nourished by the moisture in the air. That nourishment, in turn, nourishes the earth by dripping on the earth or holding existing moisture in to encourage new growth.
We have the same kind of symbiotic relationship with the earth and the environment around us. Oxygen nourishes us and we give back CO2 in return, which nourishes the plants who then give us more oxygen. We love and are loved. What we put out comes back to us, perhaps not in kind, but in the way we need it to in order to grow. It's not a metaphysical theory, it's a natural law, exhibited in nature by birds who eat fish and leave the remains for other fish to use to grow. By bugs who feed on flowers and spread pollen to other flowers to create more flowers. The universe never loses anything because it constantly replenishes itself. And we can never lose anything without gaining something in return."Interestingly, this does go back to the original idea for this week's post. In every part of our lives, we're creating relationships with people, places and things that feed on each other. If we smile, people smile back and think to smile for others. And if we fear, our fears are met with the fears of others and spread to others.
There really are no legitimate victims in a societal sense. If rape is a serious issue in society, it's because society isn't creating big enough consequences. Individually the person is a victim, yes. But to look down our noses at the rapist as if we're not part of the problem is hypocritical. In the US, at least, the people hold the power to change that. We've just forgotten we're in charge. Maybe not entirely, because there will always be sickos who don't care about the consequences. But when a college kid gets a couple of months of jail for a brutal rape, that's something society created and enabled. And you and I are part of that society. Over and over again, we neglect to exercise our powers to vote, think, spend and protest in ways that can change all this. We are complicit.
If we want the kind of hate and fear that drives police to shoot innocent men and men to shoot innocent police officers to go away, we have to heal that in society's heart. We have to shine light on the darkness, as I said above. Then we have to use that light to eradicate the darkness. But here's what people don't get...if you want "the white pigs" to stop killing black men, it's not the black men you need to show more love and respect, it's the white guys behind the gun. Yeah, I know. Holy crap, right? And complying at traffic stops isn't showing more love and respect if, in your head, you're nourishing fear and hate. It has to come from the heart. And if you want <insert racial epithet here> to stop killing cops, you have to learn to open your heart the very ones you're blaming for the pain. We need to start seeing each other as worthy, even when we disagree. And before we do that, we need to see ourselves as worthy.
The same is true on a personal level. If you're unhappy or fearful, it's the product of something going on inside you, not outside you. It may look like it's outside you and the fault of some other human or excuse, but it's not. So if you want to turn it around, you can start by putting the mask on yourself first. Then you can move to compassion and forgiveness for the situation. Faith in yourself and your higher power, and love for yourself and your higher power are the only way to bring light to any situation. They are the only way to combat fear.
Lord knows, our country has the most guns per capita (88.8 for every 100 people—nearly half the world's guns for 4% of the world's population!!!) and the most fear per capita. Guns aren't the way to combat fear. Hate isn't the way to combat fear. Violence isn't the way to combat fear. More fear isn't the way to combat fear. And yet those are the only solutions our society ever seems to turn to to make things better. It has to stop. And that has to begin with the people most capable of it, some of which are reading these words.
Right now fear and hate are the drop of dew we're nourishing our society on. All the way down to our most private thoughts—things we would never say out loud—we're nourishing something in this world. And if you want to nourish fear or superiority or righteous indignation in the world, have at it. But at least be conscious of what you're creating and how it comes back to bite you in the ass. At least see that this isn't a black problem or terrorism problem or cop problem or a problem created by the political climate or sensationalist headlines. This is YOUR problem and something you have to start solving for yourself...within yourself, as well as with the money you spend, the votes you cast and the way you respond when things don't go your way, people don't do what you want them to do and people disagree with you.
It doesn't happen overnight. And there's only so much we can do in a lifetime, both for own personal evolution, as well as the evolution of society. But the time to start doing that is now. If you've wondered "why is this happening?" anytime over the past week, it's happening to show you—yes you—where you're complicit in all of this. And if you think you're not complicit because you support all the right candidates, support all the right minority groups and do all the right recycling, you need to look harder within.
Ghandi said "be the change you want to see in the world." Lamenting how awful all of this is while you deny how you contribute, not only to fear and hate in society, but also to your own self hate and inner fears (not to mention whatever chaos and drama is happening in your own life) is not being that change. With every thought and action we're nourishing something in our lives and that, in turn, ripples out to society. So what are you willing to nourish today?