I recently saw a beautiful video traveling around social media that addresses a very important, a very potent, and a very prudent question: What is it like to be you?
The beautiful video was created by Sustainable Human, and narrated by renowned philosopher Charles Eisenstein. It addresses the urgent need to switch our focus from dehumanization and projection, to asking ourselves how we can truly begin to address the causes of this world’s current issues, rather than just attacking the symptoms. One must simply look to last year’s presidential election to see the divisive tactics that have been adding to the tension in this world. I had a very challenging time seeing people turn on one another during that election, and in the days and months that followed. However I began to hear several respected speakers, authors, philosophers, etc., stating that this situation is exactly what we all needed to help us wake up. Change can only begin from within, and all the problems we see in the world are a reflection of things that we, as a whole, need to work out and solve. We are all responsible, and the issues are now getting too much exposure to be ignored any longer.
The best place to begin that work is inside of our own consciousness. Rather than demonizing others, can we truly look within and ask ourselves if there’s anything unresolved in us that still needs healing? Maybe there’s something in us that seeks power in manipulative ways? Or a part of us that never healed a past trauma, and lives in deep-seated fear? Perhaps there’s a part of us that doesn’t feel heard? Whatever the issues, we can all do this world a service by looking within to address them. And even if we’ve done our own work, we won’t solve anything by angrily blaming those who haven’t yet done theirs. If they haven’t, there’s a reason. They don’t have the right tools, or they grew up in such abject poverty or oppression that they don’t know how to do anything but fight for what they need, or live in a reptilian mode of survival. Often it’s a simple lack of education, exposure, and experience. All too often we forget that every person deserves respect, and is right where they are because of their own valid reasons. It can be all too easy for our egos to begin to judge, planting seeds for such thoughts as “What an idiot,” or “How could anyone ever act like that?” or even, “What a horrible ignorant person!” Even if we don’t agree with someone, or even if their actions necessitate some kind of moral or legal consequence, we can still approach them from a very different standpoint within ourselves. We can step inside their shoes for a moment, and gently guide our egos and our thoughts to a more expansive viewpoint. We can look at the other person and say, “Wow… you seem to be at such a different place than me. I wonder what led you here. What is it like to be you?”
In his book “Education for Life,” J. Donald Walters defines spiritual maturity as the ability to relate to another person’s reality. This definition has taken deep root in my heart and mind. For me it refers to not only the ability to see, respect, and relate to another person’s consciousness and reality- even if it appears completely opposite of my own – but also to understand how and why this being may have come to that particular place in life, and how, from that position, they relate to others in the ways that they do. No matter which side of an issue we feel we’re on, the problems will only be perpetuated if we keep the hate and fighting going. If we keep blaming, projecting, and reactively defending our own stance, we fuel the fires of separateness. And separateness, as many people now know, is entirely an illusion.
This does not however, rationalize or justify any indifference on my part, or at all, or any blind denial of what is happening. Personally, I’m an over-the-top recycler, I am particularly passionate about the health of our soil, of our watersheds, and of our inner worlds. I do not bank with large banks. My husband and I try to vote with every dollar we spend, especially with the clothing and food we purchase. We grow organically. We believe in things, and take certain stances when it comes to politics and the environment. So I don’t think this new movement is a call to avoid action; it’s not that we shouldn’t be called to activism, or to run for offices to make positive change, or to demonstrate or peacefully protest in ways that feel true to us, or to participate in the change in more subtle or inward ways. But whatever we feel our own path to be, flinging around more negativity, whether it’s in small words to a few specific human beings, or on a large scale… it truly affects everyone, and reflects back to us the shadows of this world.
In the video, Eisenstein speaks these powerful words about beginning to address the real causes:
“For example, we don’t know how to solve the problems of crime, which is an outgrowth of deep social conditions… That’s not something we know how to solve. But, if you blame it on ‘criminals,’ then you know how to solve it. It’s easy! … If the problem is terrorism, we don’t know how to solve the deep conditions that give birth to terrorism… so let’s instead just blame it on these scary, horrible ‘terrorists’ … but bombing the terrorists does not solve the problem. It worsens the problem. It adds to the conditions that are part of the problem…”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.