There’s a wonderful story about Mother Theresa. Many years ago when she was in New York, she was asked to join an anti-war rally. She declined, saying that she would not protest against anything – but please do invite her to a rally that was for peace as opposed to being against war.
This strikes me as profound in a number of ways, but most basically, that which we resists persists. That which we embrace thrives.
I think that so many protests and so many movements fail because they are based on negatives. The law of attraction has gotten a bad name recently. People are awfully glib about it without truly understanding what it means. Simply put, thought precedes action and what I focus on comes into being. If I focus on war or hate, it doesn’t matter one bit whether or not I am for or against it – what I focus on persists.
Perhaps this is one of the problems with revolutions. It seems that when people actually succeed in overturning a corrupt government, they replace it with one that is equally corrupt and continues to commit atrocities. Examples of this are everywhere. This is because people are clear about what they do not want but have not outlined what they want to replace it with.
As these thoughts swirled through my head on my walk today, I thought about the world I live in. And I know that I am against things in that world: tar sands, BC’s government, Harper – and so on. And when I get scared about what is occurring in the environment, I tend to pull my emotions and thoughts inward – almost like wrapping myself in a bubble. And in that bubble I focus on what makes me happy.
I don’t think this is a good strategy. I am part of this world. I cannot isolate myself. But I can be part of the transformation. To achieve that, I have to become love. In other words, I have to focus not on the things I am against, but on those things I am for.
Here’s what I know for sure: everyone loves something. Even the darkest person has something he or she is passionate about – something they love and care about, even if it is something we may condemn. The fact that someone passionately loves the Confederate flag may seem “wrong.” But the emotion of love is a place to start. This is something I can understand. I can understand Harper loving his family. I can understand the emotion of love. When I start there, I start with having something in common with the person. We both love.
How to apply that in life – in how I deal with my world: I imagine a series of circles. In the innermost core is me – who I am and what I love. I love my dog, my friends, hiking, nature and (goddess knows) good dark chocolate. In the next circle, I can imagine loving the things my friends love – maybe the same movies and books; maybe the way we look at life; maybe the way we view the mountains. By stepping into this circle my soul expands and I become more accepting. In the next circle I am perhaps willing to look at new ideas and new activities – new places – because the people I care about care about these things. I grow my sphere of acceptance and understanding. And so then there is an even bigger circle. In the next one I begin to love not just people who want to save the forest by hugging trees, but perhaps architects and developers who are striving to do things sustainably and I begin to see more viewpoints and try them out.
Love is a product of understanding and empathy. As I move out into bigger and bigger circles, I accept and understand more. My empathy grows. Eventually, I hope I can regard someone like Sarah Palin and think about her love of the outdoors and her passion for her family and see her first and foremost as someone who also has love in her heart.
Instead of retreating into my core, I hope I can expand and expand to take everything in and regard it through the eyes of love.
That is what I hope for and what I strive for.
As I write this, the rain has begun – and it feels like a blessing.