Article by Jeff Foster
A man hacks another man to death in broad daylight on a London street. In Miami, a man chews another man's face off while he is still alive. In Paris, a man blows his brains out in front of a dozen wide-eyed schoolchildren.
Is it now time to sing more loudly our songs of bitterness, defeat and unbridled rage? Is now the time to give up? Was the philosophy of nihilism correct in the end? Is the world a meaningless mistake, an aberration of consciousness, a waste of everyone's time?
When confronted with 'news' like the above we can often feel so powerless, so unstable, like we are living in a world that's gone mad and out of control. It all seems like a nightmare, like some evil or dark force must be taking over. Some start talking about the nearing of the Apocalypse. Certainly it can feel like the end of the fairytale world we once believed in. Out of our powerlessness and disappointment, rage may arise, the final attempt of the ego to control things.
In the midst of the devastation we seek answers, causes, someone or something to blame, an outlet for all this confusion, this unprocessed life energy. Do we blame the killers? Their parents? Society as a whole? The human brain? The food we ingest? Chemicals? The stars? Our governments? Religions? Do we objectify the killers as sick, twisted, deluded, evil madmen? Do we go to war with them as they have gone to war with us, wishing more death upon them and their kin? Do we enter into the age-old story of good versus evil, us versus them? Do we further solidify our identification with a mind-made sense of self?
Do we curse the universe and wish we hadn't been born? Do we try to numb ourselves, distract ourselves from the realities of this world, with alcohol, with sex, with work, with material comforts? Do we simply dismiss the horror, detach ourselves from others and turn our backs on their plight, muttering and complaining about how "awful" and "terrible" things are but doing nothing to help bring about change and healing?
Do we turn to spiritual teachers who comfort us with talk about the illusory nature of life and the unreality of all we witness? Do we regurgitate words like 'nothing matters', 'it's all just an innocent play of maya', and 'nobody has any choice anyway'? Do we call what we see an 'illusion', sparing ourselves from the pain of having to confront the messiness and seeming uncontrol-ability of this relative and impermanent manifestation? Do we pretend that world events have nothing to do with us, that everything is disconnected and we are islands unto ourselves? Do we descend into solipsism? Anarchy? Do we close our hearts even more tightly than they are already closed, build our walls even higher and live in a protected state of fear? Do we give up on this world and dream of a perfect afterlife?
Do we come to conclusions about how good or bad the universe is, fixate on an optimistic or pessimistic view? Do we use the 'reality' of the news as an excuse to give up, to shut down, to forget who we truly are? Do we let the 'terrorists' win by living in terror ourselves, and terrorizing others who we label as 'evil'? Do we add to the problems that we see? Or do we use the appearance of problems to look deeply at ourselves and the way we live and treat others? Do we see the madness as a call to clarity? The violence as a call to love? The pain as a call to compassion? The terror as a call to remember and express more deeply and with more conviction that infinite intelligence that we are?
Do we condone the killings? Absolutely not. Do we feel the pain of the victims, and the victims' loved ones? Of course, for we are not separate. Would we do everything we can to prevent this kind of thing happening again? Certainly. Do we work for justice? Yes. Do we sit back and simply 'accept'? If acceptance means detachment and passivity, no. If it means coming into profound alignment with life, knowing that intelligent change and healing always emerges from a fearless plunge into the mystery of the moment, then yes. True acceptance and creative change are lovers.
In the Middle East, a Jew donates a kidney to a sick Palestinian, saving her precious life. In India, a woman feeds and washes those with leprosy, because she sees that we are all expressions of the very same consciousness and it brings her joy to live in this way, despite the names that others call her. In San Francisco, a son holds his elderly father's hand, and suddenly forgiveness happens as if by magic, unexpectedly, the weight and violence and resentment of a lifetime falling away, as if it never happened at all.
What 'news' are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them that they have been born into an essentially scary and bad and sick world, and they should live in fear and hate? Do we teach them that violence is inevitable, and 'built into' to their nature? Or do we teach them that the murder and torture we see in the news every day stems from a deep forgetting of who we are, a false and misguided belief in separation?
Are we teaching them to give up on their dreams because there are bad people out there intent on stopping them? Are we teaching them to give up on love, and give up on compassion, and give up on change, and give up on humanity, and give up on joy, because of all the 'news'? Are we teaching them to focus on what is wrong with the world, to cling to the 'negative', to sing songs of defeat and disillusionment? Are we blinding them to the 'negative' by focusing only on the 'positive'? Or are we teaching them to acknowledge the violence of the world, the pain of it, but to see that all this sorrow is part of an infinitely vaster picture, a picture where everything is interconnected and everything makes a difference and everything is in balance and nothing is set in stone?
Don't use the 'news' as an excuse to stop living your truth, even for a moment. Don't believe for a second that there is a force called 'evil' in the world with any power whatsoever to win over Life. Terror cannot win, for it emerges from a gross misunderstanding of our nature. We are only hurting ourselves, stabbing ourselves, blowing ourselves up, and deep down, we know this and have always known. A wave can never be separated from the ocean, or from any other wave, and beyond our differences in opinion and belief, we are all movements of the One Life, the true Power, beyond the worldly 'power' of guns and meat cleavers dripping with blood. Teach your children the realities of the world, yes, but, more importantly, teach them the realities of their hearts and the hearts of those they call 'others'. Let the current play of violence actually serve to deepen your conviction in that timeless and unshakeable gift of Presence that you have always known, and reconfirm your intention to end all violence in yourself, to live as you know you can live. Don't allow the 'news', or at least the stories selectively presented to you as the 'news', to distract you from Truth.
Keep your eyes on the prize.