Living in the Shadow over Paris and the Rest of the World
Like many people throughout the world as the attacks in France became known and filled the news I experienced increasing layers of shock, horror and despair. The more I watched the more I felt rage which was essentially a cover for fear. It did not take very long for my response to get to “OK, screw this. We need to respond with the full force of the American Military. It is time to squish them like bugs. It is time to unleash the power of the monster in a form which these people can barely imagine.” I did not like this reaction. Obviously it was deeply violent wishing death upon others in massive numbers. I didn’t like it and it was a visceral reaction. “They want to kill us so we need to stomp them before that can happen. Whatever cities ISIS controls need to be carpet bombed then invaded.” I was so vehement about this, two friends were quite surprised. And frankly we were all glad I was not in charge of anything. From this period of rage I morphed into a time of despair. I knew this was unsatisfactory and yet had no other response. I who had never before supported any war in my lifetime wanted to simply blow them up, wanted to wreak havoc and bloodshed. “If ISIS wants a war with us, let’s give them one that will make their little suicide bombers look like child’s play.” My Soul kept whispering “Slow down.” My Ego kept screaming at my Soul, “Shut up. Kill them all. Beat them until they surrender.” I didn’t like thinking this. I don’t like writing it now. I don’t like admitting this especially in a public forum. To say I felt torn is a vast understatement. Everything I feel I have worked toward on my spiritual path was in doubt. And the fury would not go away.
Two things happened to help me emerge from the fear and rage. First, many people began discussing immigration and the Muslims should be banned from coming here. My heart began to see the hate and fear I was embracing. Second, a client of mine from Europe spent the session deeply concerned for her family who were in Paris. Her tears opened my heart more.
As my heart opened several perspectives emerged.
1. First thoughts need not be last thoughts. My, and our, initial rage and fury is not the place in which to stop. They are understandable and even expected as long as we don’t stay only there. There is a deeper more spiritual place to find. But it is through the rage and fear not around it that we must travel. It is in accepting those emotions not in denying them that I could evolve. Only by going through my personal shadow could I deal with the cultural and global shadow.
2. Rage and fury reaction are Ego reactions. My ego went on a rampage in reaction to the attack in Paris. It was actually quite frightened. The rage was a cover for fear. One of the things I know about myself is that this often occurs. My first reaction is ego and my Soul comes later. It is very important for me to wait and respond slowly.
3. I don’t know what to do. And I think no one really knows. Old solutions offer very little. We just finished a war in Iraq that made things worse. Thousands of years of human history have been dominated by war. And it has led exactly to this place and time. Not very successful a strategy. And, as with WWII, war may be necessary. I don’t know.
4. I refuse to believe the dominant narrative. This is foisted upon us by media and various politicians who wish to flex their macho muscles.
5. Hate wins if we refuse refugees. America has been a beacon of hope in the world. We are a country of refugees. I am an immigrant. Closing ourselves off to refugees shuts the beacon off. Every wave of immigration throughout our history has been difficult and we never knew the character of those who came. If we refuse them now we should remove the statue of Liberty or at least cover its inscription of “Give me your tired, your poor and your hungry, your huddled masses.” Or better yet, rewrite it. “Give me your tired, your poor and your hungry, your huddled masses as long as they are white, European and Christian.”
6. See beyond the BS. We, the spiritual people, need to see through the political Bull. Any politician who says we should admit only Christian refugees is not only racist but disqualifies him or herself by being just plain stupid. They say we must not take refugees because we cannot vette or prove they are not terrorists. But we can prove they are Christians. Preposterous. Spiritual people need to be as gentle as lambs and wise as wolves in evaluating politicians appealing to religious sentiment. It seems to me that there is a Biblical story we are about to celebrate which speaks of a refugee family in the Middle East with a mother father and baby seeking shelter. If we close ourselves to the refugees now we close ourselves to “the least of these.” If we close ourselves now we are those who said there is no room in the inn.
The dark energy of barbaric hatred does not look like it is going away anytime soon. The mystic stance is to know that all things are ONE. It is to know that we are one with even this energy. We cannot stand apart from the world or divide it from us. Spirit uses this time in human history to call us to awaken. It calls us to refuse to become merchants of hate. In order to get to this place I obviously had to go through (not around) my personal shadow before I could even see the shadow hanging over the world. The Awakening calls us to stand with the refugees of the world while also recognizing the potential for risks. This involves standing with our Muslim brothers and sisters already in this country. Spirit reminds us that the worst (ISIS) of a group does not represent the whole group (Muslims) any more that the KKK represented all of white America. We connect with the darkness by awakening from it.
We live in what can feel like a dangerous world consequently it important to not be seduced by shadow, ego and first thoughts.