Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The more I let go of my fear and loathing and respond to Brenda (not her real name, but time I gave her one) with loving kindness, the more frequently I succeed. Lately, I care less about her behavior toward me, and a whole lot more about my behavior toward her.
Lately, I see her more as a human being who is trying as best she can to be the best person she can.
Trust me: it's not easy. Baby steps are giant leaps compared to my micro-steps, but you can measure the distance all the same.
One big help the past couple of weeks is Life Coach Wanda Tucker's First Aid for Trauma technique.
This is something I need privacy for--I can't stop wherever I am and do it on the spot--so I have to take a few minutes to get away, but it works!
When I am hurt or betrayed and the tooth-grinding, eye-squinting, stomach-churning anger rises, I step behind closed doors and tap.
Try it! Let me know how it works for you next time you feel hurt or betrayed or just plain out of sorts.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Is this possible in our world today? Consider:
- In the world of Ordinary, people of child-bearing age take care to conceive only when they are certain of their desire and ability to nurture their child with tenderness and love. Every birth is cause for high celebration. Every child is cherished.
- Ordinary children are nurtured not only by their parents, but by all the villagers, each of whom feels responsibile for the well-being of the children.
Because they were raised, themselves, in loving homes and a supportive community, the adults have full capacity to provide appropriate care. No child need fear the misguided—or worse—adult. There are no "funny" uncles or aunties in Ordinary.
- Children and adults in Ordinary are encouraged to explore their individual creativity, to develop their highest talents, and to share their creative work with the world. Work is play.
- Children are taught responsibility from an early age, and even the smallest children share age– and skill–appropriate chores. This sense of responsibility carries through a lifetime.
While each Ordinary inhabitant contributes her or his best skills and knowledge—people who love to cook work more in the kitchens and bakeries; people who love to teach or build or garden work more often in classrooms, construction, or the fields—everyone rotates through chores in all other disciplines.
This ensures respect for all the labor required to maintain the village and meet the needs of its people and their animal companions.
The children, receiving carefully considered attention, instruction, and ample love, learn early to respond to others with compassion and love. Cooperation, respect, and understanding are as natural a part of their lives as air and breath.
In her book Sent by Earth: A message from the Grandmother Spirit after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Alice Walker tells of the Dagara people of Burkina Faso:
The most important thing that happens in a person 's life is that they be welcomed when they are born. If they are not welcomed, all their lives they experience a feeling of not quite having arrived. There is anxiety. There is unease.
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in their book Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything, suggest provocatively that legalized abortion so cut the incidence of unwanted children as to instigate an unexpected and dramatic drop in crime of all types throughout the nation, stunning researchers and government planners alike.
They attribute this dramatic drop twenty years after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to the single fact that women ill-prepared to support a child emotionally, physically, and financially now had a choice. Fewer unwanted children were born. The cycles of poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, and crime were interrupted.
While there is much to be said on both sides of the issue of abortion, one thing is certain: In societies around the world, where children are loved and desired from conception, nurtured by their communities, and offered ample opportunity to explore their talents, crime and strife are nearly non-existent.
Could it be possible that bringing only wanted children into the world, welcoming them joyously, and consciously meeting their needs day to day could change the world and bring about world peace at last?
What do you think?
Days I must see the woman who seems to enjoy hurting me, I visualize greeting her with a smile and kindly thoughts. The smile does not come easily.
My pulse quickens. My palms sweat. I feel anxious. A little trill of fear runs down my spine. What has she planned for today? Spitefulness rises like a snake, and I feel false, forcing a smile I do not feel.
The minute-by-minute effort to replace anger and pain with compassion is exhausting. I resent the need to spend my energy this way.
What foolishness! She wastes so much of her own energy, and what can it possibly gain her? What reward does she find watching me struggle with my personal ethics--watching that first hit of pain, followed by teeth clenching, eyes blazing (I am prone to a bit of Irish temper), then the effort to seek peace in my soul and bring it to my face, my body, perhaps to bridge the space between us. Does this give her such pleasure? She smiles, a funny, twisted, small smile, and turns away.
Love can heal. I have seen it many times. I have seen it with this woman. Simply returning her hatred with unspoken love, a prayer for peace, a vision of her as a child beloved of Spirit, has brought a generous smile from her face, warm and true. And momentary.
In my resentment, now, I want to hang onto my "righteous" anger. Anger protects me, keeps the wounds fresh, reminds me not to trust again, not to extend myself only to be rewarded with betrayal or worse.
I quiet myself.
I acknowledge the ragged breath, the unhappy thoughts. Let them go.
Ask for guidance.
Several days this week, in that still space, Wanda Tucker's advice came to mind (see her comment to Love as Retribution) that wounded individuals who attack repeatedly are like a dog hit by a car. You've seen it, too. In his agony, the dog strikes at every helping hand, lashing about, running blindly into objects, hurting himself the more.The image of the terrorized dog arrests me. I don't understand how a rational, well-educated person can enjoy hurting others (I am not her only target), but I can understand the impulse of a crazed, injured animal.
In that moment, a tiny bit of healing takes place. I release a breath I had not realized I was holding. I take another breath, and another, deeper and deeper. I move a little closer toward compassion and love.
I'll keep you posted on the progress of this experiment in creating peace from strife. I invite you to share your stories. If one person can make peace with one person, there is hope for peace in the world.