Consider other perspectives. Learn from new and uncomfortable angles.
We all have the privilege of learning and growing from our imperfect life paths.
Today is the Summer Solstice. As the longest day of the year, it is traditionally a celebration of life, light, and the beginning and completion of the cycles of life. Throughout history, people have held rituals and ceremonies to celebrate and honor the Solstice, the Sun’s life-giving force, and our connection to all living things on Earth.
In accordance with the spirit of the Solstice, I have spent much time today and leading up to it, reflecting on my life path thus far- as well as considering the direction I wish for my path to take in the future.
One of the themes I keep coming back to during this reflection is regret and growth in our imperfect human lives. I have always regretted the many reprehensible actions and misbehaviors of my past- yet I am now finally ready to forgive myself, honor my life path thus far, and move forward.
Imagine other cultures: Visit people, places, and cultures – not tourist attractions.
The Dalai Lama said, “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
If you know me at all, you know peace and love is my jam. But, if you’ve met me, you probably also know that I often do not err on the side of ‘behaving peaceful and loving’. Among other things, I have been called ‘spirited’, ‘high strung’, and ‘bitchy’.
This used to bother me quite a bit. Were my worked up thoughts, feelings, and tendencies my true nature, and could I ever be a peaceful and loving individual?
Several years ago, I began a soulful endeavor to find peace and love within myself, with those close to me, and with humanity.
During my journey, I have been blessed with the fellowship of like-minded people, also looking to spread peace, love, and perhaps happiness towards others.
However, throughout the years, I have found my journey has taken me on new paths.
Although I try to approach all aspects of my life with peace and love, I no longer believe it is enough to send out peaceful and loving vibes, while simply sitting calmly, allowing for life to just happen.
Let me elaborate on this.
I had a paradigm shift a few weeks after our latest presidential election- upon approaching my 31st birthday.
After a year of deciding many times a day whether to take part in or avoid increasingly heated conversations- I decided I had to make a decision and stick to it. I had to decide exactly how I felt, assess why I felt that way, and decide how I was going to act and react.
It was at this point I concluded that I must stick to my values and principles- at all costs; and just because I happen to be passionate or ‘easily riled up’ about something I value, I am no less peaceful or loving. Likewise, I must keep reminding myself that those who are more calm and serene are not necessarily more peaceful and loving individuals.
It has been exceedingly frustrating, because, although all these characteristics are mutually exclusive, they are often seen as interchangeable.
Now, like all humans, I am nowhere near perfect, but I can still make an effort to be a better human being and live with the best intention.
I think that should be the key here- intention.
I think that most of us can agree that it is not peaceful nor loving to kick puppies, beat up old ladies, or set houses on fire. The intent there is clearly one of malice. I think we could also agree that if you were to come across someone behaving in this manner, you would probably be very vocal and action-oriented about stopping it. The intent there is clearly one to not just promote peace, but to stop actions of hate. It’s not a calm reaction, it’s visceral, and that’s okay.
There are some actions, however, that many overlook, because the intention does not seem malicious… or, even worse, the intent of the action is clearly malicious and harms others, but people do not want to speak or act out against it, for fear of appearing too impolite, high strung, or bitchy about it.
Many times we overlook malice because these actions are done by sweet, calm, kind people. People who go to church, love their families, and are good to their friends. But making decisions that knowingly fuck over others, this is never okay.
So how should we approach these actions?
Speak and act with the intent of love.
Seeing someone choose to act in hate, especially due to ignorance, is worthy of a meaningful dialogue. Dialogue is how many learn to empathize and see others as humans worthy of love. But, remember that sometimes the dialogue simply cannot be calm. Sometimes it’s not polite. Sometimes you have to be firm and you cannot stand idly by, for fear of how others will perceive you.
All religious texts are full of this dialogue, to help inspire us to become better people.
But even Jesus, one of the most understanding and compassionate characters in religious texts, lost his cool on occasion when he needed to be more passionate to prove a point. Whether it was with the assholes at the temple or his own followers, his passion showed us two things. One: that sometimes it requires being loud, angry, and passionate to get the the point across. Two: having the intention of hate, and being an asshole to others just ain’t cool, and should not be tolerated.
Whether it is the Bible, Quran, Talmud, or Torah- no matter the religion- the most important teaching, the common thread, is love. Not necessarily being calm, or polite- but showing love and peace, and not allowing hate.
No matter your age, religion, nationality… whatever background… it doesn’t matter, this message applies to all of you.
If you focus on anything else, you’re missing the point.
Although I hope we all grow more kind and patient, and continue to strive for conversation and dialogue, let’s be sure to get one thing straight: being peaceful and loving means you don’t allow others to totally shit all over everything just because they’re polite about it. We must stop confusing passion with hate, and calmness with peace.
“The time is always right, to do what’s right.”- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We must choose to act and speak out of love, not hate or fear.
Humans have such an amazing capacity for love and growth. Consider it and help make the world a better place.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”-Mother Teresa