It is in times of inexcusable violence, bloodshed, and incomprehensible acts that we are asked to reflect. Occurrences like the terrorist attacks in Paris and across the world as well as the protests turned to violence in Minneapolis and Chicago are causing one of our most basic emotions to surface. All it takes is one visit to social media to feel bombarded by opinions. The anger is poignant and far-reaching, as are the solutions people offer.
We need to take a breath and think with a different mind. What might we need to hear at this time? What do these events mean for our life? We are angry, we are sad, we are in denial… we seem to cycle through the stages of grieving a-la Kubler-Ross. In the meantime, we remember two weeks ago when the largest national dialogue surrounded a red coffee cup. . . If you look closely, this is also correlated to one little emotion that is chattering away:
We have many choices in life, but the most important is this:
Do we choose to live in fear or in love? Every choice we make is based on these emotions. Every feeling we have comes back to these emotions. Fear is an emotion correlated to fight or flight. It connects to our basic fear of life or death. From drastic life or death experiences to the smaller travails of everyday life, say, feeling particularly out of shape in our swimsuit. . . they are tied to fear. The “What happens if…” feeling that twists our gut and causes our reactionary self to step in and SOLVE or ELSE! But what do we really fear? What really happens if…!?
If it is a fear of physical safety or ultimately, death, we must look at the concept of death and turn it around in our hands until we feel more familiar with this, one of the few experiences, we all share. If it is fear of losing control, we must look at the illusion that we control all outcomes. When we think we control everything, we’re usually shown that we must learn to survive in times when we most definitely don’t have any. If it is fear of other peoples’ beliefs, actions, and choices, we must realize that we cannot control others’ paths. We can only assist those who are being harmed or have lost their voice, in a way that allows them to continue moving forward. If we find the root of our fear, we can transform it into love, into positive action, into feeling purposeful and more balanced in times like these, the horrific times that try us the most. This is radical—it is radical love. Perhaps we, instead of rushing to anger or to violence, take some time to reflect on what we really believe this concept of fear versus love teaches us. How do we engage our fear? Where might we find love in times where fear clouds our vision? Perhaps it is in challenging ourselves to meet new groups of people. Perhaps it is reading an article from an opposing viewpoint of our own. Perhaps is it visiting a shelter where people are provided safety. Perhaps is it standing by protesters in the cold to truly witness their humanity. This can disarm anger, it can disarm fear, and it can grow love. It ultimately can help define our purpose in this world. Which is to say: You are here to love. Not to be afraid. Look for the people living love and jump on their bandwagon. Perhaps Mr. Rogers put it best: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”