This image says much on its own, though a few thoughts come to me: we are all pulled toward the center of our polarities; we see a part of our selves mirrored in one another; we are here to hold … Continue reading
Could it be that we have become so afraid of living our own lives that we fear any other who threatens to walk into the vacancy we have allowed? When we do our personal/cultural/global work to re-member who we are and why we are here, we need not fear the other, only sense what we are here to grow up together. Then the pain and meaninglessness of the void is filled with a new value of and hope for what life can be.
I have heard these words from a few colleagues, as well as from my own mouth, in the last year or so. Whether in academia, newcasts, political diatribe…I so anticipate what can open when we peel back the borders that we believe define us and our work. Is it not much more interesting to explore what the nature of these borders is, what lives there, what purpose borders and boundaries hold?
I have had a number of experiences lately where I speak a world into public space and get this swift and seemingly closed response. In my recent book, Restoring our World Soul, for example, I use the term “Right to Life” as our most worthy Cause – to champion the spiritual Right of every person to know and to be free to Live out what they determine to be their purpose for being here. Why do we back away from conversation when any one – person or group – moves to claim sole ownership of that term? Clearly we do not wish to engage in meaningless conflict over what view is “right”, but what is the wall that comes up and where does that say we are in our development?
Another example – “universal faith”. I was opening a conversation this morning about the connection between Victor Frankl’s writings on Man’s Search for Meaning, and what I observed as moving across the globe that was greater than belief, race, gender. We missed one another and I had to sit back to remember how sensitive language is, how very difficult it seems to be for us to pause and take the time to understand what shared “meaning” is actually being invited.
One more example, skyping with two beautiful and deeply spiritual African women this morning, they mentioned how uneasy it is, how very careful they have to be when mentioning the word “spirit”. In their context, they explained, the word is usually connected with church and with those close to God; it is also connected with the sense of ancestral spirits. Imagine my delight when I asked them how they personally understood “spirit” – “like the wind”, one said, “reaching out to each one no matter how we appear to the world”. The other said, “it champions”.
It was from Africa this morning that I sensed the deepest and most profound connection in “meaning”.
There are many entertaining Hollywood stories of the crazy one! And there are many current stories that keep mental illness in the closet where society can put everything they don’t know how to yet deal with.
I have been a therapist of these ill souls for 20 years. No one will disagree with the need to take guns away from those who have become unable to protect society from them selves; no one will disagree that there are times when we need to step away from work roles when what we are doing, impacts the whole in destructive ways. But the deeper dilemma of how to respond to an ill culture – national or corporate – is avoided when we project onto a few, the disorder of the many.
Well-being and harmony exist on a continnuim – somewhere between our most natural state and our most disordered – the states which meet more of DSM criteria. It is no longer sufficient or efficient to treat the few when re-harmonizing is the task of the many. Neither is it just to pathologize what is often a normal enough response to a disordered global state (eg., it is useless to label and medicate “depression” when the presenting issue is the existential quest we are all on).
We will heal when we open both our personal and our cultural psyches for re-examination and re-ordering.
It was the famous existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who said: “Everything has been figured out, except how to live”.
If we were to place this alongside the words of another famous thinker, Carl Jung, relevance and meaning are increased: “It may be that in all the garbs, shapes, forms, modes, and manners of life offered to him, [man] does not find what is peculiarly necessary to him. He [must] go alone and be his own company. He will serve as his own company, consisting of a variety of opinions and tendencies – which need not necessarily be marching in the same direction”. (from Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
If we were to accept, as these men did, that reflection and discernment are acts of personal, cultural, national, and global conscience, that “man” is a collective entity, there is a timeless wisdom here.
Rather than clamoring to protect one right definition of “Life”, might it not be profoundly more “Right” to consider that while Life is intimately revealed, no one of us can grasp the whole sense of this Life?
Perhaps then it is more valuable to talk about the greater Nature and Body of Life, revealed; to fight for one vision, one revelation, is a distraction – foolishness. We must be willing to move among the parts that we are if we are to expand and to evolve in why are here.
I too am profoundly drawn to images from around the world where faces are raw, where the cries for something more that this (!) wrestle down any tendency to stare, detached from the horror. I can not detach.
I listen for the nugget of what the plea is for – the human right to dignity, freedom, and justice is clear. The outpouring of human rights watches and organizations, they are at work; I am part of such watches.
But something is missing. Governments are inadequate in their efforts to get legislation and Treaties right; wars and valor are clearing space but the pause between war and peace is getting filled in too quickly with what is familiar. Where/what are we needing to (be allowed to!) Occupy – that our lives and rights verily depend on? Who/what are we asking to Occupy us that would make that historical difference ?
Why does it matter that we progress in what we claim to search for? Perhaps it’s not the immediate need to name what “it” is, and place our stake of claim in “it”, that matters primarily. We each – personally, culturally, nationally, religiously – search in ways that are meaningful to us. But having a collective way to make sense of what all our searching is for, can help us move together – with an attitude of harmony and openness rather than conflict and fear. It is not unreasonable that we could possess a “worldview”, and withing that, have our own particular ways of helping that world come into being.
I refer in my writing to the universal image of the World Soul. This is defined on the intro page of this blog – that inherent will toward re-balancing and re-harmonizing that can give our personal/cultural/national souls reason for real (vs. temporary) hope. Is this what our cries could be for? This is a conversation about what matters; it gives clarity and possibility to our protests because we know what we are searching for. We can not give “it” to one another…we can only search together for the truth of what “it” is.
By now our eyes have witnessed thousands of such images – to the point where we can feel removed, untouched by what it might mean in the deepest way to this woman, this man captured in the moment. Dignity, freedom…these are human rights we all desire, even if we take them for granted or have become dulled to what they actually mean or demand of us.
But if we look deeper here – this could be more than just another protest. The storyline of global unrest and all the “what if’s” around which way it will go, is saturated. We are tired of it; we no longer feel connected to it. We search, desperately, for a more hopeful storyline – one that reconnects us – with our selves and with those we share the world with. The Middle East and Arab struggle is not that different from our Western and Christian struggle. Muslims, Christians, Jews – we all want to live in a world that makes room for freedom of belief and of worship. It is our most intimate way of making sense of who we are and why we are here.
What if we were to “See” this woman, this man, as a spiritual sister and brother who is reaching for their RIGHT TO KNOW AND TO LIVE their connection to the Divine? Seeing dignity as a spiritual right, understanding freedom as a spiritual quest – we will no longer treat those in our spiritual family with prejudice, with hatred. There is no need to fear their quest when we See that it resembles our own. We will not want to further burden a world with what we have yet to face in ourselves; the world is already a heavy place to live in.
The RIGHT TO KNOW AND TO LIVE ONE’S LIFE is, I suggest, the deeper storyline that we are gathering around now. There is an innocence and a tenderness about that story that touches us – the children of Sandy Hook are teaching us this. Let us listen and open ourselves to how this story of the Right to Live is giving us new hope, a renewed reverence for the intrinsic value of a life, and of Life. It matters to where we go from here.
Notice the universal outpouring every time this innocent drive in us, to Live, is oppressed, abused, taken from us. “The Right to Live” is a primal need, a movement that defines us commonly, even as we individually and culturally sense and discern it.
I heard David Frum say in an interview this morning that the beginning of wisdom in America today was to ask how the original intent of the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) might be revised to have meaning for our current civilization? I’m thinking we’ve been playing with the edges of that question for many generations. Taking up weapons to avenge our deepest fear that Life has abandoned us (therein the justification to abandon it in a final rush to preserve our value and our existence), is historic. This continues for a reason that we have yet to take hold of.
Could it be that the greater wisdom to be gained now is: How can we profoundly shift toward the forces that do preserve and protect who we are? The stories coming out of Newtown are shining the way forward: letting kindness fill the space where hatred and fear could have led. The capacity of the wounded to hold their wounds just separate enough to be able to choose kindness, heals…here…now. It is a perspective that is making a difference.
In “Restoring our World Soul” (see my website for purchase), I offer a deep look at four global movements we can make to restore Life rather than objectifying onto it, our frustrations.