Busting out of my Bubble: A Reflection on Sharing Love

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones– the ones at home. ~ Mother Teresa

This morning I watched a video of a British comedian of Pakistani descent (Guz Khan) talking about the recent attack in Manchester and about terrorism in general. I was sitting on my front porch, in my robe, drinking coffee and looking at images of dead or traumatized children. I wept– from my seat of privilege, just having been swept up in irritation at drinking Maxwell House because we ran out of the good stuff. I wept. Too early in the morning for this shit! Too early in the morning?!? What calloused, pretentious, self-absorbed, white American bull shit!

Before getting on social media and pressing the play button on Khan’s video, I did pray. I started off my prayer with sentiments of gratitude and asked God, my own conception of God, to guide my thinking and my actions to make me of service to Him? Her? It? and my fellow human beings. In imagining how I might be of service today, I thought of my friends, my immediate family, and my partner– many of whom are struggling with loss and transition– but I did not, in any way, imagine being of service in a greater sense, in a global sense, in a way that was not all tied up in my intimate circle of life.

I often close my eyes to what is going on around the world. I am not much of a political activist– tough to be when I get the majority of my news briefs from FaceBook. I am only somewhat embarrassed to admit this lack of seeking out real news coverage. I can make excuses for my choice toward ignorance. The news depresses me. It is all sensationalized and biased. There is nothing I can do.  But, perhaps, I should be embarrassed. The reality is that I am completely in the dark, that I am turning a blind eye, that I am all wrapped up in my little life. If I am honest, it is because the state of the world exhausts me and I am self-centered and I am lazy.

Yet, moments like this morning– even though I had seen those images before, had heard that rhetoric– when I am absolutely struck with the reality that real tragedy is happening all around me, I vow to do better. I will watch the news. I will read. I will study up. I will stop residing in the shallow pools of my mind, burst through the bubble I live in, and I will do something to help someone somewhere somehow.

But how?

Really? But how? There are all sorts of ways how. The ways how are not kept in some locked box in which one needs the secret code. “But how?” isn’t truly the question to be asking. The more appropriate question is: “But, will I?”

I like to imagine that I will, or maybe even that I do, use my gifts of articulation for the greater good. I write about trauma and depression and finding one’s self. I write about my journey with sobriety. I write about breaking cycles of abuse. I write about spirituality and creativity. I also write about feeling frustrated with the size of my thighs. Maybe this is all well and good. Addiction, depression, abuse, lack of a spiritual connection are all real struggles. They are. But, when I look (again) at photos of a dead baby washed up on shore because his family was desperately trying to escape crisis, the visions of memoir dancing like sugar plums in my head seem very small and disillusioned. Yet, art stems from personal experience and I have no experience whatsoever with bombs or killing sprees or fleeing war-torn countries.

I do, however, have experience with pain, with grief, with loss. I can tap into this pain. To paraphrase Kahn in his video about terrorism: We all grieve the same.

Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, discusses the collective human insanity. Before venturing into the solution, Tolle states: “If the history of humanity were a clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against perceived ‘enemies’– his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.” He later states: “To recognize one’s own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.”

I like to think that I am not part of that collective, of that violent, murderous hatred of the other. Yet, I am. Not because I myself engage in acts of cruelty, but because I ignore them.

It seems to be a fairly widespread belief that we are all sinners. I hesitate to use the word “sin” because it conjures up ideas of pledges of allegiance to a certain god or religion or, maybe especially, to stringent, often silly, rules about right and wrong that can be used to further damn “the other” when it comes to personal choice or belief or action. Yet, I do believe in some concept of sin. I believe that sin is the infliction of pain on one’s self or another. I believe, for example, when we shop at a store because the goods are cheap, regardless of the fact that we know that the company exploits others, that we are sinning. I also believe that using distorted concepts of sin to discriminate against others is sinning. In my perception, where there is love, there is not sin.

So I guess, and maybe this is cliche unless I intend to really act on it, my job is to become aware– of my insanity and of what is going on around me at home and in the world at large– and to perpetuate love. I don’t think that means to stop writing what I write or praying to find ways to connect with those in my immediate presence, as Mother Teresa said love starts at home, but it does mean to reflect on my actions in a more global sense and to use my voice for what I believe is the greatest good.

In the past, I have been referred to as a “bleeding heart liberal” and have been told, in very concrete ways, that my views, or rather actions in conjunction with my views, enable people to “sponge off of the system” or to act in ways that are incongruent with a healthy society or with God’s plan. Recently, a man told me that all liberals were hypocrites– self-serving idiots who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. Years ago, I would’ve gotten into it with this gentleman. I was quite outspoken. I once, for example, emailed a local police officer, CCing our entire staff, about his inappropriate portrayal of immigrants in a staff development. I believe I referred to him as irresponsible and intolerant, citing examples of fearmongering and misinformed judgment. Now, I am afraid to share a Dalai Lama quote on the internet. What happened to me?

I no longer believe that it is necessary to “get into it” with anyone. I  really do try to listen. I have friends of all walks of life– some who school me on squirrell hunting and the fact that they got laid off from a job at an apple orchard and fear immigration and some who believe that Trump is literally the antiChrist. I really do listen. I try to understand both viewpoints regardless of my personal leanings. Still, I do not understand what is so terrible about having a bleeding heart? What is so terrible about looking at one another as equals, of tearing down these terrifying us and them-isms, and wanting to extend a hand? I don’t necessarily mean through policy and programs though I am a “liberal” in that regard, but at least by being willing to extend love, compassion, and any assistance I can muster even if it only come through power of example. I have gag ordered myself out of fear and have cut myself off from the global reality because I’ve been steeped in the fluctuations of my own self-centered ego. Icky coffee this, what will they think of me that.

As they say, however, one has no right to grumble if they are not willing to take action.

The great thing about life is that one can start over at any time, any day, any moment. I want to start over now. As a member of the human race. I want to start honestly using my heart, my voice, and my gifts for the greater good. Smiling at cashiers and writing about depression on a blog that few people glance at are not enough. I can start by “taking care of the closest ones”, by setting an example for my son, by being present for those that I love, but also by planting those seeds of acceptance and those ripples of positivity into the universe. Regardless of your religion, your background, your income level, your race, your political viewpoints, your sexual preference or gender identity, or your mistakes, I love you. Every human on this planet– I mean every human– deserves compassion, lack of judgment, and love.

I’m serious about this.

I can read the newspaper. I can be aware. I can pray. I can march. I can have adult conversations about my views without arguing. I can post articles on social media. I can contact my legislators. I can write blog posts that may or may not make any sense or memoirs that lead addicts and rape victims and those who have struggled with self harm and depression to hope. But, most importantly, I can love.

 

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