It is estimated that in the twentieth century alone, human beings managed to kill more than two hundred million other human beings in wars and through genocide. Human beings seem to be unique among the planet’s organisms in that we harm and kill other humans not just to protect ourselves physically, not just in pursuit of food and territory, but also in defence of images. We kill in the name of every kind of image – ideologies, philosophies, belief systems, spiritual paths, worldviews. We kill in our attempts to create our image of heaven upon the earth, to impose our image of the world upon other human beings who are not like us. We kill in the name of images of reality, images of truth and falsehood, images of who we are and who others are in relation to us – images that rarely, if ever, correspond to reality. Where can this violence end?
- Jeff Foster, The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life
Although I think that Foster really has said it all, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on this as well, simply as a way, perhaps, to sort through some of them and share that process with you, the reader.
I have been the target of hate. When I was young, that target was on my back because I had darker (much darker) skin. This was a form of racism that, today, would be poo-pooed because I am not First Nations or Black in my ancestry…that I know of at this time. But where I grew up, if you were not white as white can be you were NOTHING. I am of mixed ancestry, as I have mentioned before. So I got a target on my back…one that I did not put there.
As I grew and my skin tone “faded” this eased. I have often wondered if the deep sunburn that I received was only part of the reason for that. I have wondered if it was a gift from the Universe to help me survive living among racists and bullies. I have actually wondered, because I can change the colour of my eyes at will, if I unconsciously took the opportunity, while my skin was healing anyway, to morph into a lighter shade so that I could stop the idiocy that was being thrown at me. I was 18 when that sunburn happened. And after that I looked quite pale. That was alright with me because it has served me well to “infiltrate” the masses of white culture. This I find amusing to a certain degree. But what I wonder is…if my skin tone had remained darker, would I have been a victim of a hate crime along the way? I don’t know. I had already moved away from that community, so perhaps not. But one really never knows.
In my teens the going thing to accuse a young male of was being, God forbid, GAY! And guess who got that label thrown at him on a daily basis. Although I was blooming sexually, I really did not know what my orientation was at the time and I really didn’t care that much about it, except that I know that if I was gay, then they would have a perfect excuse to lynch me. As it turned out, at that time I was actually more interested in girls than boys so it really became more of a non-issue as time went on. But I saw how other boys who were gay were terrorised by the bigots among our peers. I did not really consider them to be MY peers, because most of them were lame idiots. So I would stand up for the other boys who were being bullied. And because I stood up to them I was again targeted. I can only imagine what would have happened, had I stayed in that community, at the time that I discovered that I am in love with another male person. My sexuality is fluid, but their beliefs are not.
Then it went into my spiritual beliefs. I have mentioned in previous posts that my shamanic practice began when I was young. And when it was discovered, all hell cut loose. So there was pretty much an entire spectrum of my being that did not, could not, and would not fit into the beliefs that others in the community had about who I was SUPPOSED to be. The struggles were very real…every…single…day.
One would think that I would grow bitter. Although there were definitely times that I was afraid for my life, and although I rarely go back to that community to visit family, I cannot say that I am bitter or that I ever was. I was traumatised, yes. I was also smart enough to know the danger signs, one of which is the one that welcomes you, as a driver, to that community. I do see the irony in that. But bitter is not one of the things that I have allowed those people to make me feel.
I have chosen to feel sad…not for me but for THEM. To me they are a microcosm of the macrocosm of our world at large, where people are convinced that it is right to kill each other for ridiculous reasons and ideas. That is a form of blind following that I can never do. So I feel sad for them. I pity them for not being able to see the beauty in everything and everyone around them, regardless of where they are from, or who they love, or how much money they make annually, or what their spiritual beliefs are, or whatever. I pity them.
This type of mentality is what makes it so incredibly easy for a leader to convince the people that they have to murder in the name of the flag they bear. It is a FLAG. What the…??? Although I am very happy to be a Canadian citizen, and the child of immigrants, I would NEVER kill someone just because they were from another country. Just because their flag did not match my flag. That is not what patriotism is for me. For me, patriotism is the willingness to stand up for what is going to protect and serve our people. That means things like health care. That means things like social assistance. That means things like dignity and respect. It means things like science and art. It means things like ending starvation in the homes of our people. It means things like making sure that EVERYONE has access to education. These are the things that, to me, constitute patriotism. Because THESE are the things that make our nation shine.
I think that everyone is allowed to think and feel whatever they choose to think and feel. Everyone is allowed to believe whatever the heck they want to believe…or NOT believe. And as long as everyone keeps those beliefs close to their hearts and don’t try to spread it around or wave it like a flag in others’ faces, it can all be harmonious.
In order for us to ever achieve a state of harmony, though, we do have to look very deeply within ourselves to see where our hiding places are. Do we use our nationalities to hide from the rest of the world? Do we use our spirituality to judge and condemn others for their own spirituality? Do we use the colour of our skin to oppress those who are of other colours in grand or small ways? Do we use our affluence to intimidate and control those who live in poverty?
When we can honestly answer these questions about ourselves, we can then make the internal changes that are needed in order to step up to what is a better way of being. I, for one, enjoy becoming a better human being with every passing day. I have come a long way since I was a child, or a teen, or a young adult and so on. It is not easy in any way to change things about how we were brought up to believe certain things and to be righteous in those beliefs to the point of the exclusion of others around us. But that is the sort of work that we all must do. If ever we are to find ourselves in a world that is caring and loving, we have to begin with ourselves. We cannot, as individuals, change the entire world around us, as messed up as it is and as deeply in need of healing as it is. That is not our job. We have to change how we, inside, are messed up and in need of healing. We have to make better choices for ourselves so that we are not constantly perpetuating the violence and destruction of our own species….and eventually of our own planet.
These are my thoughts…so far. And there are a lot of other thoughts as well, but I only have so much time to create this blog entry today, so perhaps I will touch on this in future writings. Have a blessed day!