There are lots of feelings swirling these days – fear, outrage, outrage about who has the right to be outraged. There are feelings of sadness, grief, helplessness, and being overwhelmed. I’m sure there are many more, and it seems like I’ve felt them all.
Why all the hatred? How come folks are so cruel to each other? In the words of Rodney King, “Can we all get along?”
I don’t know.
But I do know that any response I (or a community or a country) may make will rarely be a good one when it comes from a state of anger or fear. I know that my best first response under turbulent circumstances is to be still and listen to my heart, to attend to my inner knowing. Otherwise, I will only react and replicate the very thing I’m reacting to – and that generally only leads to more mess.
Moving toward stillness is somewhat counterintuitive when faced with hostility and possible annihilation. However, in that moment of pause, it is possible to take a breath and consider options. And there are always options, never only a single possibility.
If I wait until my emotional waters are still, I can respond in ways that allow me to bring kindness, creativity, and my best wisdom to whatever situation I’m in. One of the most efficient ways to still my waters is to connect to my purpose.
My personal life purpose is to remember that there is no person outside the human circle – every single one of us belongs. There really is no “them” or “us” even when it is politically or emotionally convenient for me to pretend otherwise. I am the eager concert-goer and the young man who strapped bombs onto his precious body. I am the Syrian refugee fleeing tyranny and I am the US legislator demanding we close our borders. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us this in his poem “Please Call Me By My True Names”. When I remember this, I can consider more clearly what kind of response I choose to make when confronted with complexity and outrage.
So I invite you to reflect on your purpose. Why are you here on this planet in this time? What is it that you, uniquely, are here to offer? Give yourself the gift of time to sit with this question awhile.
When you’ve come to stillness, ask: What is mine to do in this situation?
And when that becomes clear, do that.
I believe that if we all take the time to pause, listen in, and get clear on our purpose, then we have the capacity to respond to a changing and unpredictable world in fresh and creative ways. A legion of purposeful people leading with kindness, compassion, and interconnection is something of great beauty and power. Let us work to make that the case.
From my heart to yours,