Lessons from Orlando: The World Needs Us
As I collect myself to head out the door to attend Bloomington’s Candlelight Vigil for the Orlando victims, I feel compelled to connect with this online community as well. At times like these, we all search for answers and want to understand. Trying to find answers is logical. I searched for a long time for answers after my father was murdered in 2006. However, the answers I received did not make me feel any better. Nor did they bring him back. I was left with my grief and my personal quest to make sense of a tragedy in a way that would provide me with comfort while also allowing me to do my part to bring more peace to myself and our world.
For days now, I have seen, heard, and been keenly aware of people’s grief, frustration, anger, and even rage as a reaction to the events on Sunday, June 12, in Orlando, Florida. There were similar reactions to events in Charleston, Sandy Hook, and Columbine, and the list goes on and on. These feelings are all understandable. What I also hear is people’s desire for a better, kinder, and more compassionate world. In addition to those observations, I notice fear in people, fear in myself, fear in others—even fear in our leaders. I believe that much of this fear comes from us feeling helpless. We don’t know what to do to get our planet to a safer, kinder place. We don’t know how to forgive people who have caused us such pain. We don’t how to listen to the stories of those we disagree with without judging them as “other.” I understand this fear. It makes perfect sense. I have lived this fear with the murder of my dad, with the deaths of so many from 9/11, and from visiting Zambia and seeing people who experience life very differently than I do. However, what has become clear to me is that if I operate out of fear, I don’t meet the world with an open heart. If I allow my fear and my rage to run my life, I am miserable and cannot help the world discover a more compassionate, loving way to be. If I don’t grieve and I act out of fear and anger, I blame, I point fingers, and I fail to truly see people as people. I turn the world into us versus them.
I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to follow my heart and help grow the world that my heart knows is possible. Don’t you? After all, the only question that is pertinent at the moment is this: what kind of world or country do we want to live in?
I am not saying that your feelings are not warranted. They are. However, all your anger, rage, frustration, and sadness are based on both grief that needs to be experienced and fear of the unknown. This is not an easy road. I don’t mean to imply that it is. Trust me—it took me years to forgive the man who killed my father. It takes time to forgive people who have caused us harm. However, I think that you will find there is power in forgiveness. Certainly, it is a place to begin an expedition to be part of the solution and to create a world where we all feel safe and where we all belong. Check out my article The Miracle of Forgiveness to begin your journey of forgiveness.
Namaste is a word that I learned in yoga years ago. The word meant nothing to me until my yoga instructor explained its meaning. Namaste is derived from Sanskrit. It is a respectful form of greeting in certain places in the world. On a deeper level, Namaste means “the light in me sees or honors the light in you.” The phrase has tremendous faith. It is basically saying that there is good in every one of us. There is light in each person who walks the planet. We may not be able to see a person’s light or their essential self at times. However, we trust that it’s there. When I coach or simply go through my life, I try to practice the concept of Namaste at all times. I may run across people who are making choices that are not kind. I may see or read comments that presidential candidates and world leaders make on the news that infuriate me. However, I try my hardest to look past unkind comments, hostile actions, and aggressive and, yes, even violent behavior to see the light in the other human being. It’s not always easy. However, I find the more I practice, the easier it becomes.
Practicing Namaste by seeing the world through my best self and looking for the light in others allows me to be hopeful. It provides me with comfort. It allows me to be compassionate for all. We cannot create a more beautiful world by hating and despising others. We can only create a more beautiful world by changing the way we perceive the world, each other, and ourselves.
These words written by Lissa Rankin came across my desk recently. I wanted to share them and the video that she included. Lissa’s words are honest, bold, and hopeful. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. If you want to read her full blog post, click here.
Can't we remember the love now, before we're in those last moments? Can't we just stop hurting each other, stop positioning for what we think is "right," stop defending our hearts and closing off our capacity for compassion? Can't we just open our hearts, not just to those we lost in Orlando, but to all of those who have lost their way as a result of this misguided culture? As Charles Eisenstein says in this beautiful video, we cannot simply point fingers at the perpetrators and go on a rampage, trying to contain the "bad guys." Perhaps the "bad guys" are victims too. What had to happen to these humans to make them do the kinds of things that humans do to one another? If the spiritual traditions of all religions are true and we are all connected in Oneness, then we are all responsible for tragedies like this. Yet we have a choice.
I know it sounds naive, like magical thinking, but I believe in real life magic and I can see a future where we care for the billions of people on this planet, each one as unique cells in one human body. It all starts with compassion, with opening our hearts to the suffering of others. Hatred, revenge, and judgment don't help. They only feed the story of separation. We must begin this revolution of love with loving ourselves and one another the way God loves us—unconditionally and with total acceptance. We cannot separate ourselves from the perpetrators and make them "other." We are all in this together.
There are so many quotes to share here. However, I have decided to share this one hoping that it will inspire you to begin a journey of Namaste with me.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching