The world we live in is so often perceived as two-dimensional. It’s black and white, Catholic vs. Protestant; plaintiff vs. defendant; Democrat vs. Republican; us vs. them. Taking sides and fighting for one’s side is idealized, while being neutral on most any topic is often seen as weak and indecisive.
The two extremes have a dark side. Those in power manipulate the masses by promoting conflict. It’s a tactic of Divide-and-conquer by keeping everyone busy mistrusting one another while the fox raids the hen house. Wars are fought and people die under this mentality.
Besides being dangerous to one’s health, well-being and survival, it is very limiting to view the world only in black and white. There is a whole spectrum of color, a virtual rainbow of possibilities that lie between. There is power in diversity. Nature knows this. Otherwise why are we blessed with a variety of thousands of species of flora and fauna? Couldn’t the earth get by with just a handful? And yet there is bountiful assortment to be found everywhere. Even in extreme desert environments, a riot of rich, multihued flowers bloom each spring. Plant, insect, and animal life adapt and find ways to survive in desert and arctic environments despite extreme conditions.
Resistance is futile. That’s a phrase known to most everyone, Trekkie or not. However, resistance sure beats being assimilated by the Borg without even trying to save one’s self! Resisting with all one has is heroic; it would be cowardly, even suicidal to just roll over and allow an enemy to have his way with you. In the real, nonfictional world, La Résistance were the good guys who fought for freedom against Nazi Germany. Mahatma Gandi taught his followers the powerful use of passive resistance. Everyone knows you’re supposed to resist temptation. Therefore, resistance is good. It would then follow that surrender is bad. It’s raising the white flag, giving up, giving in; throwing in the towel. Surrender is synonymous with defeat.
But let’s back up for a minute. There are times when resistance can be a bad thing. A well-oiled engine is free from resistance and therefore runs as it should with minimal wear. Muscles that hold too much resistance for too long will spasm and weaken. Workouts must be balanced with rest and relaxation. If a person wants to bring love into their life, they must let down their guard, e.g., resistance to meeting a potential partner.
As a child who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s I am no stranger to the concept of protest. Folk songs and books were written; peaceful (as well as some not-so-peaceful) marches were organized. A counter-culture was born, arguably at a time when it was very much needed. Protesting can be beneficial. When something is wrong, it needs to be called out rather than blindly following an unfair status quo. That being said, putting all one’s energy into protesting what we don’t want has a definite downside. Love and hate are close cousins. Both are rooted in passion—they are just aimed in different directions. When you pour your energy and passion into something, you energize it. Therefore, if for example, you hate conflict, ironically, you end up giving it more power. It’s an oxymoron, fighting for peace. It’s fighting fire with fire, or perhaps with gasoline. One might as well scream for silence.
My daughter’s life passion is the love of children, especially infants. After her last baby was born, she was thrilled to land a job as an infant teacher where she could cuddle and care for these little beings all day. She was allowed to bring her own small children as well; thus this job was the perfect fit for her. But then the needs of her employer changed. They moved her from the infants’ room to the toddlers’ room where she was called upon to chase after and care for toddlers all day. At first she was very disappointed and upset since toddlers are so much work. They are definitely high maintenance, mainly because they are mobile—an understatement, to say the least. Caring for these active little beings is like herding kittens, only toddlers weigh a lot more than kittens! It is both a physically and emotionally demanding job.
A few weeks later, I was pleased to see the smile back on my daughter’s face. In fact, she was practically beaming. I asked her if she had been able to return to the infants’ room, but she
Goldie Locks and the Three Bears is a fairy tale about comfort zones. We like our beds not too hard and not too soft, but just right. Our bodies do not like to be hotter than this or colder than that. Staying the same, or stasis, feels safe and secure. It’s the state of what we’re used to, what feels comfortable. And yet … all this comfort comes at a price. We must give up growth or movement in order to stay the same. Stagnation is a definite drawback.
One dictionary definition of stasis (per Dictionary.com): “a state or condition in which there is no action or progress.” The Latin origin of the word is “to cause to stand.” Standing our ground feels stable and secure. It is balance between two opposites. But it doesn’t get us anywhere. Stasis and movement are opposite things, we shift weight from one leg to the other to walk. This requires giving up the perfect balance, at least temporarily.
As uncomfortable as it might be, let’s face it; staying the same is not an option on Planet Earth where the only constant is change.
A tale of perhaps Native American origin, some say Cherokee, goes something like this: A grandfather is speaking to his grandson about the fight between two inner wolves. One wolf is made up of all things evil and hateful and the other, of all things good and loving. The bad wolf fights the good wolf, all of the time. The grandson asks which wolf wins, and Grandfather replies, "The one I feed the most."
Unwittingly we find ourselves feeding the bad wolf every day. Everywhere one turns, there are cautionary tales to heed. Under the guise of being helpful, a chorus of voices constantly warns us to be aware, (beware) of a myriad of things—from illnesses to terrorist threats, and everything in between. We live in a complicated world where criminals and scam artists are poised, ready to steal identities, hard earned savings, and ultimately, our peace of mind. We need to be aware of our surroundings in back alleys, in shopping malls, and in our cars. We are told of ways to keep our children safe, and worse, what may happen if we don’t.
Bottom line, no matter how well-intentioned, all these warnings conjure up mental images that reinforce our worries. Much of our attention is focused on the negative, and thus we feed it and make it grow. By constantly searching the radar screen for dire things to avoid, we are all the more likely to find them. Or they find us. Fear emits a signal that draws a like result. The bad wolf grows stronger.
Hate is energy and it expands what you hate or fear. Love is also energy and it is stronger and more powerful than hate. How to make love grow? Here are just a few ideas, among many. Think happy thoughts. Play your favorite music, Meditate. Go for a stroll. Hug a loved one. Visit nature. Practice gratitude. Dwell on the good things in life.
Feed the good wolf, and thereby starve the bad one out of existence.
Feeling Safe in an Unsafe World
With all the things going on in the world today, safety seems to be up for everyone. Yet safety/security has always been a core issue deep within the hungry belly of humanity. We come into this world unable to survive on our own. We are naked and vulnerable. We seek a safe haven in our parents’ arms, having no choice but to trust those arms will be strong and loving. Eventually we replace our parents with other forms of security and ways to survive—a decent paying job, a nest egg in the bank, a warm, cozy house, a good health insurance plan. We also seek emotional security in friendships, marriage, and other relationships. However, none of these external forms of refuge are failsafe. Even the best of parents and other loved ones let us down at some time, and/or die; jobs end; all forms of financial security are easily lost, stolen, or frittered away.
The harsh reality remains that there are no guarantees in life. In the blink of an eye everything can be altered forever. Despite all our heroic efforts to seek shelter from potential harm, death is always only a heartbeat away. One could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Mother Nature snuffs out scores of lives via hurricane, flood, fire, and earthquake on a regular basis. A mugger is poised to accost his next victim right around the corner. And even if we manage to escape accident or misfortune, illness waits in line to get us in the end. Nobody makes it out of this world alive. How safe is that?
If there is no such thing as safety in a material/physical sense, on a spiritual level, there is always safety. When we come to understand that this life as we know it is not all there is, then we see that no harm or loss is ever permanent. Though death may seem the worst fate that can befall us, it only means we lose a body that we will eventually shed anyway, one way or the other. The spiritual self, on the other hand, does not die. That’s the basis of most of the world’s religions. It’s a concept that cannot be proven via scientific means. It defies, or rather, transcends, logic and must be accepted on faith. We have faith in gravity, knowing that we will not suddenly fly up into the air. We have faith that the sun will come up again each morning. The moon will stay in its orbit, guiding the tides to rise and fall. As we watch the seasons change and the perpetual cycles of birth, death, and transformation, we can rest assured that we, too, are a part of the continuing circle of life. Our form may change, but the essence of our true self lives on.