Barcelona, London, Paris, Nantes, Manchester. The attacks keep coming. The fear, the anger, the hurt, the pain and the suffering keeps on growing.
In the aftermath of these evil attacks, political and religious leaders all over the world will offer their sincere condolences and make bold statements about staying strong and not letting fear win. And for a while this show of positivity and strength will make us feel a little better, but soon enough we come to realise that nothing has changed and nothing likely will.
I don’t want to go into depth regarding conspiracy theories of how the political and religious organisations and institutions may have a vested interest in maintaining the ‘status quo’. What is most valuable to us as individuals is to simply accept that waiting for sufficient change to occur in the political, religious or economic worlds renders us somewhat helpless, and if anything it only intensifies our frustration and anger during what are undoubtedly challenging times.
So what can we do?
I know that this is going to sound naff and somewhat airy fairy, but the only thing that we can do is make the change ourselves, in ourselves.
In itself that statement sounds like some slogan from the Sixties, ‘make love not war’, ‘love is all you need’ ,’change yourself’ and in some ways it does share that idealism, but without an understanding of why we should do this, or how it would help us, I agree it’s pretty much useless on it’s own.
So why and how should we do this?
The answer to this seems pretty obvious – what else can we do? We’ve established it’s playing the long game waiting for political or religious change to occur, and so we are left to reduce our options down to the things we can change, and the most reduced version of this is to bring it right back down to ourselves.
We are not responsible for the events that occur in the world but we can be responsible for how we respond to them. In fact that’s all we can really be responsible for. We can condemn hatred, and yet there are times when we too can be hateful. We can condemn violence, but aren’t there times in our lives too when we can act, think or speak with violence? We can speak out against racism, bigotry and ignorance but are there not times when we too discriminate? Do we not see the irony in marches and protests for peace ending in anger and violence? This isn’t a time for guilt or shame regarding our own behaviour, our thoughts or our actions. Rather it is a time for us now to see where we too may be contributing to the ‘dis-ease’ we see in society. We need to see our own hypocrisy, our own paradoxes, dualities and conflicts and to start to become more comfortable with their existence. We cannot change what we cannot see, so we need to see our ‘stuff’. Once we see it, we can learn to accept it and allow it.
The very act of acceptance, without judgement, will change the hold these thoughts, emotions, attitudes have over us, our minds and our lives.
If you change your feelings and thoughts on your neighbour, your friends and your family and just watch the change that occurs in your world. Offer compassion where once you felt pity, offer forgiveness where once you felt blame, offer love where once you felt hate. You will feel the change in yourself, you will see the change in your environment. It is not even in question, it’s a law of the universe. You get back what you give out.
If every one of us made these simple shifts in our inner worlds then piece by piece the effects of these changes would grow and grow beyond just our small community. We won’t eliminate evil overnight. We may never do so. We will still be living in the real world. We will still need to go to the toilet, pay bills, deal with sickness, the usual stuff. The thing is we will be contributing to the goodness in the world, doing the best we can to change our world and not waiting around for the world to change for us.
Also published on Medium.