A quote from Ram Das keeps coming to mind as we enter this new chapter in the American story: “You may protest if you can love the person you are protesting against as much as you love yourself." I'm not that evolved, if only I was!, but it's certainly a worthy challenge, a goal worth aiming for.
Some healthy, focused anger (and, yes, I believe you can be angry and remain rooted in love) can ground us in our personal power, give us the courage to speak truth to power; but hate consumes everyone and everything, leaving nothing in its wake but scorched earth and shattered hearts. As Buddha said: "Never in this world has hate ever cast out hate. Love alone wins over hate."
We don't always see it mirrored in the Big Events—there's just too much noise, too much shouting and shaking of fists—but in our day to day lives, in our one-on-one interactions, love and compassion are the most vital, valuable and transformative qualities we can cultivate. And if the microcosm is the macrocosm, then every act of compassion and love, no matter how small, how seemingly insignificant, will echo out into the wider world.
One more quote, from Avatar Meher Baba: "Love is essentially self-communicative; those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. Those who receive love from others cannot be its recipients without giving a response that, in itself, is the nature of love. True love is unconquerable and irresistible. It goes on gathering power and spreading itself until eventually it transforms everyone it touches."
Even if that's not true—I believe it is, but even if it's not—I would rather live my life choosing love over hate, compassion over division. Even if it's just a dream—what a beautiful dream it is.
There are spiritual traditions that say the entire universe is a dream. If that's so, then perhaps a collective dream of love can actually transmute (so-called) reality and change the world for the better.
Worth a try, isn't it?
©copyright 2016 J.M. DeMatteis
To which I say, "Amen!"ReplyDelete
I feel discouraged by current events, but at the same time I'm confident that new opportunities to love are being opened up.
There are two natures, and the one we feed will always be the strongest.
Let's feed love.
And a big "Amen!" right back at you, David.Delete
I have been super focused on the micro instead of the macro. With 2 year old twin granddaughters at my house on a regular basis it gives you the proper focus. Besides, it's National Novel Writing Month and I am 17000 words in!ReplyDelete
That's fantastic, Douglas. Best of luck with the book!Delete
Love? I think there is a different positive word that needs to focused on.ReplyDelete
I don't think that it takes a master of deduction to realize that the election is what prompted this.
The fact is that this was a hate election. We had the two least liked candidates in quite a while if not ever. No one I know voted for either, only against one.
But there were other hates that have been stirred to the surface in this election. Hate for the big players in media, regional hate, economic hate, hate for where our culture is, and social hate.
The fact of the matte is that it has only gotten worse since the election ended. There is a lot of talk of a "divided nation." In reality it was just a lot of people hating a lot of stuff, but the way things are being discussed, it WILL be a legitimate divide very soon.
This has been called an election where white men rose up in anger to try and take back their country from minorities. The fact is that there is not much to back that claim, and it is a very dangerous accusation to make without proof.
If that had been the case we would have seen record highs in votes (given that a black guy was elected into office twice, it would HAVE to be larger than those numbers).
Instead voters were lower than the last two elections,but what was up were third party vote. which were at record highs. In my state alone 1 out of every 20 voters in the election voted third party.
Now I am not naive enough to believe that racism is dead. The fact a race war is going on in LA, the time a NYC cop told me being from Detroit made me "black by association (given how he looked at me, I don't think it was a compliment), and other times I have seen it in various way, all inform me it is there. Probaly more than anyone wants to admit, but not enough to do this.
In the interest of transparency, I voted for Hilary Clinton. I say this not to start a political battle (pne I will not engage in, so don't try) but rather to show how my position is formed.
I also remember once when Jon Stewart got very angry because New York was insulted. Now I like Jon Stewart, but as some one From all over Detroit. Michigan. The Midwest. The Rustbelt. All places that are never mentioned except as a punchline, it was hard to be too sympathetic at one jab.
The point is many people opted out of voting all together, or at least participating in the big two parties. Why? Because they feel the system isn't working for them. Because they feel the culture has pegged them as unimportant. Anger and apathy were there own ticket this election.
In Michigan alone, Jill Stein got 1% of the vote (Gary Johnson 4%) her numbers were 5 times what Clinton would have needed to win. Yeah my state was decided by .2% of the votes. WITH almost every heavily populated area going blue. Maps of the states even show us as grey.
Politicians came, but did little to address our problems, and this is after using Detroit, Flint, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Madison as props as flaws in the country.
Even the current administration's supporters sayiong they fixed teh economy, when it is still very sluggish and with many people struggling is hateful. Yes they stopped the bleeding, but... not the point. The choice of words, intentional or not, can come off as hateful to those who are still walking a tight rope.
There is also hatred for certain aspects of the culture, which would lean towards one candidate. There was the strange ingrained dislike for Right of Left depending on which you are on the opposite side of.
I think it should be obvious that the word I am getting at is understanding. People talk about political bubbles, and they are very real, but there are also societal bubbles, cultural bubbles, and regional ones. And the imprisoning effect its pushing things to strange places and breaking things.
People are jumping to conclusions based on these viewpoints. You yourself did a minor version of it. When you posted that I should go see teh Dr. Strange movie the day after the election you said, "we all need some cheering up." I'm fairly certain I know where you were coming from.ReplyDelete
You assumed I was not a supporter of the Red State guy... and yes you were right. However, you had no way of knowing that.
Understanding is the key, and not just reading up. Actually talking to people.
The day after the election I bought comics like every Wednesday. I talked to a guy I know who voted red.. as he said he would.
I explained why I voted blue, he told me that he could understand and respect that. He then told me why he voted red. I said that in another election, I may have been right there with him.
It was pleasant. And just so you know, he is a big fan of JLI, and has said that the moment when Mj sees Kraven dressed as Spider-man and instantly knows it isn't him is one of the best in Spidey's history.
I will understand if you don't want to put this up, really I will. Just please say it came through. Thank you.
The core of what you're getting at, as I read it, is understanding. Understanding, to me, is a function of compassion. And compassion is a form of love.Delete
Thanks for sharing your POV, Jack.
I don't want to focus too much on politics here, which is why I like to focus on spiritual unity. And comic books!
For me, it's a constant balance between wanting to speak truth to power, oppose belief systems that I find profoundly disturbing, and remembering that, at our core, we are all quite literally one. I'll never master it but I'll never stop trying.
As I see it, understanding is not and cannot be a function of compassion, or any other emotion.Delete
It is the cold and clear act of gathering information. No emotion at all should be used in it.
Yes, compassion can come from it, or disdain, love, or nothing at all. But only ever applied after the facts are in.
I believe understanding is best done, if not needed to be done, dispassionately.
And while I have you. You talk about comics and spirituality as if they are separate.
Nope. I believe, at the heart, EVERYTHING is spiritual, whether we can see it or not. And I've certainly spent a good part of my life trying to express my spirituality through comics.Delete
I don't see how understanding CAN be strictly emotionless, because we're emotional beings. Even those who claim to be operating on a strictly rational, logical level, devoid of emotion, have plenty of emotion going on below the surface. I'm dubious & even wary of anyone who claims to be purely logical (unless they're Vulcans, of course). And I wonder why some (not all) believe that stripping away half of what makes us human somehow enables us to see & understand things more wholly? (I'm with William Blake in seeing things as more Holy.)Delete
Perhaps this is simply a matter of different innate temperaments & worldviews. Blake himself didn't disparage Reason, only its elevation at the expense of feeling & imagination -- there should be a balance, an ongoing give & take, it seems to me.
Mae Moore: "Coming into season this world will flower / With the power of love, not the love of power."
Beautifully said, Tim. Thank you.Delete
Love is apprehended emotionally and rationally.Delete
Emotionally, it seems at its strongest when we have 'reason' to love, when we're of the same mind or share a familial bond.
But rationally, love is at its strongest when there's no good reason to love, when it takes an act of will to overcome our emotional misgivings. When we scrap the whole idea of 'deserving' and love our neighbor as ourselves. When we love the unlovable, or at least those whom we are tempted to perceive as such.
Thanks for sharing that, David.Delete
Avatar Meher Baba once said: "Start learning to love God by loving those whom you cannot love." What's so powerful, and challenging (to me, at least), about that statement is that he says that's how you START learning to love God. That, I think, is where compassion comes in; it's a higher form of love, a more impersonal form of love, that transcends our individual identities and leads us to the space where we're all literally One.
Just a glimpse of that kind of love can illuminate our entire lives.
That's a great quote, JMD. Very challenging but worth the effort in my opinion.Delete
I don't understand how anyone can call what comes from emotions "understanding." I'm very sorry, but I just don't. Emotions are instincts, and therefore are the complete opposite of understanding.Delete
Emotions breed biases, it is what they do. That is why they exist.
I don't advocate completely taking emotions out of the equation, only that they should be applied after understanding has been reached.
I'm not quite sure how we got to me advocating a reason based life. It is sort of reminiscent of when on this sight I was hinted at being a Nazi sympathizer, simply because I pointed out that the Japanese had there share of atrocities during the war.
I would never advocate an emotionless life, or even emotionless decision making. I just don't think that they need to be in every step of the process. No, scratch that, I don't think either belong in every part.
If you want to see what a person that makes every decisions based on emotion, go look at a two year old. For pure logic, a sociopath. Whether you believe it comes from God, evolution, or a combination of bot, it doesn't matter. We have both present for a reason. That reason is survival.
Neil Degrasse Tyson's idea for a society based solely off of reason would turn into a horror show within 3 generations, because at sometime people would look and say that the only real way to cure mental illness and feebleness once and for all is to kill everyone with the genes. It is perfectly logical... it is also perfectly horrifying.
Of course, people complain about the state of the news industry quite a bit, and it is in response to the major TV New networks (by the way you should never get your news from a show with someone's name in the title), but a large part of those problems come from appealing to emotion.
Which brings me to another point, "I don't see how understanding CAN be strictly emotionless." Well, in terms of understanding, this is a pretty good start:
If you mean in life, I'm fascinated in how you got that from what I was saying, but I feel like it would just make me angry, and I like you David so, you can...but, I wouldn't advise it.
Whether you choose the mental Yin or the Yang, only having one will never give you the full picture of what is going on.
And people wonder why I'm so long-winded.
I'm with you on this, JM.ReplyDelete
Last night I happened to catch the Star Trek episode "Day of the Dove" on TV. When Kirk began to talk passionately about what they were all descending into -- violence, hatred, savagery, even racial hatred -- it struck a sadly & frighteningly timely resonant chord.
As someone in the documentary "It Was Twenty Years Ago Today" said when asked if love was REALLY all you need, "Maybe it isn't ALL you need -- but without it, what good's the rest?"
Defying hate without succumbing to it is the more difficult path for many people, but it's the only sane & humane one, I think.
That's actually the second reference to "Day of the Dove" that I've encountered today, Tim. Weird. But you're right, it does strike a timely chord.Delete
"Defying hate without succumbing to it" is the key and it's a difficult tightrope to walk. But, as you say, it's"the only sane and humane" way to go. May we keep walking this tightrope without falling!
Thanks for checking in, Tim. Take care.
I saw your "tweet" in the corner of the website about William Blake being a graphic novelist. He was also a relative of Bill Everett. Kooky.ReplyDelete
Really? And, in a weird way, one style reflects the other!Delete