How do I find peace at such a time of outer unrest, social upheaval and ongoing pain and wounding of the already social fabric that we are all a part of in America?
Anybody who pays attention to the news at all can see that not only do we have a COVID-19 pandemic and an economic pandemic, now we also have a social unrest pandemic. I sometimes feel fear and frustration, and I sometimes even wish that someone besides myself would just make it better and we could return to life the way it was prior to “social distancing,” higher death rates, and the upheaval of the fabric that interweaves our lives. I sometimes want a leader outside of myself to just solve these problems.
Just as I find a greater understanding, balance and sense of equanimity inside me, it seems another outer upheaval comes hurdling in. In deep, heartfelt talks with those I respect, I have heard the pain in their hearts for those who are suffering on all sides of this debacle. I have heard their voice and felt my own sense that there is nothing I can do. On the polar opposite, I have felt my own indignation at behavior that seems to be igniting the flames. I have wanted to take action to somehow change the situation.
Note, my inner positioning dictates my perception of unacceptable inflammatory behavior. If part of me relates to law and order and believes that damage to property or others is simply wrong, then I seem to react to those who are fomenting the riots and their bad behavior. On the other hand, if the part of me that is leading relates to the sensitivity in my heart and trying to understand what unresolved pain would drive somebody to charge forward to wound others, then I may react more to those who want to use power to control others. This part may blame the cops, governors, or the president.
As I have talked to others and read social media posts, I have observed that some use this eruption in the social fabric of our country as an opening to push their own pet policy position forward. I, too, once used policy advocacy as a means to solve our common problems as I perceived them through my limited lens of understanding. I discovered that there is no legislation that will resolve these wounds and rents in our social fabric. Just like a doctor could not use force to heal my inner wounds that lead to outer illness, a society cannot use force through policy to resolve and heal wounds in our society.
Yet, I used to think my righteous purpose and desire to get results efficiently and quickly, justified using power or force to achieve the ends. Under this type of thinking, it seemed to me that we can use our indignation, superior knowledge, and righteous behavior to condemn another for eating meat, or for not eating meat, for where they go to church, or whether they go to church, for whether they show their racial heritage or not on the outer, and for whether they mirror our beliefs. Now, when I taste this righteous indignation it seems to elevate me above that feeling I really dislike – being helpless in how to transform the outer issue that is a burden to my heart. It can feel like swallowing kryptonite and seeming to elevate to a superior part of my being.
But venting and escalating my indignation and anger at others is not an elevation. Through my working with my horses, my professional service, and seeking to partner with all life, I have begun to understand that whenever I resort to using power alone to respond to an outer threat, I become a partner to the problem, not the solution. Righteous indignation may fuel me out of the sense of helplessness, but it also bypasses my heart and ability to transform inside. Inner transformation and healing have seemed to be the only way I can elevate myself into being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
What is the lesson in of all this?
Just like my horses, Mystic, Snort, Ruby and Buddy, share a pasture and sometimes have issues to work through in their small herd, we have social issues we have to work through in our country. True, these outer issues seem so large as to be unresolvable. These issues will try our souls. To succeed in finding outer healing for our nation, many of us will have to go deeper within and seek greater inner transformation than we may have ever thought was possible.
Yet, has that not been the message of many great leaders? Reflect upon leaders who went before us, such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and even great religious leaders – Jesus, Gautama Buddha, and the lives of the saints. They changed the world by finding inner wholeness and raising other souls up from that fountain of love. They found a way to not use power alone. They found a way to use their light to elevate and help free all life around them.
When we are whole, we can serve as a touchstone to hear others in their pain and be with them in ways that allow them to find resolution and freedom. Together, in a community of connection built on true freedom for all people, we can rise from where we are now. Let’s start a revolution for wholeness that starts at home inside of us, and from that foundation let’s transform the outer world to be the place we dream of.