On a Friday night, Paris bleeds. You feel sickened.
Despair. Dismay. Unthinkable chaos. Humanity at its worst. Madness.
Then it happens again, weeks later.
More violence. Murder. Heartache. Sorrow.
Then again, just days.
What the hell is happening? Is the whole world on fire?
In moments like these, fragility feels so near to you — so close to home.
As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s what comes next that really cripples your soul.
The up-swell of backlash. Untamed anger. Blind hate. Blame.
You’ve heard a lot of opinions in the last few weeks. Some for better, many for worse. Facebook rants and changed profile pictures. Newspaper headlines and Op-Ed commentary. Passing comments from strangers. Concern from friends.
Forget them now.
This is a letter to you from your better self. At least, the one who tries to be: the you who wields the pen; who longs to speak from Source beyond knowing; who feels a tingle in his spine whenever he sits long and listens.
This is your communion.
This is you getting honest with yourself.
Because, in the wake of madness, madness is too common a response.
If your response is hatred, then hatred there shall be. If your response is smallness, then only petty deeds and words will follow. If your response is fear to spite the love — generalization, discrimination, criminalization, based on exceptions — you lose.
We all lose.
And your smallness — only half-justified, because you’re afraid (and that is human) — becomes part of the problem.
And the foul ones, murderous ones, so intent on making us hateful, and small, and petty, win.
So put down your accusing finger. Quiet your lashing tongue.
You’re angry. You’re sad. You’re right to feel both.
Feel them. And get to know those feelings well.
You are terrified. That’s what the hateful ones desire.
Refuse to become hate for them.
Rage, all the just feel it, so feel it well and lash it out where no one can see you or hear it. Outburst in solitude. Honor your inner animal, but don’t take him out for a walk.
You are an animal. But you are still human.
Animal anger and animal terror erode the very things that make you human.
When you let them win, and carry the anger and the terror and the rage out into the world, you stand bold-chested and appear strong — daring “them,” hating “them,” denying “them,” as if to repel a solemn few who seem to be innumerable. But in your show of hollow strength, you show smallness to the good ones, your actual neighbors, your literal equals — your brethren, the true innumerable: the quiet majority who populate this earth in good conscience, like you.
Hate, rage and discrimination born from anger and dismay, grief, terror, sadness and confusion do nothing but degrade the forward march toward peace.
The march is stepped by the billions, daily, weekly, yearly, and however snail-like the progress may seem, it is in these moments — watershed moments, when the whole world watches — when how you respond and with what you react and what shape you take ensures that the march either keeps marching, or grinds to halt, and reverses.
Don’t be an animal who knows better, but acts as if he doesn’t.
A cornered possum would shut down borders.
A wounded raccoon would lash out in fear.
A frightened skunk, we all suffer from the outburst. It stinks. It stings. It stays, even though it’s long gone, and since calmed.
Don’t be those things.
You’re angry. Be angry. Feel it fully.
Damn your anger. Curse your disgust.
Do you truly intend to give yourself to your most sour feelings?
Your worst shreds of self?
Do you own them? Or do they own you?
If you cannot control them — if a hat drops, and they consume you — are you not their puppet?
Do you actually intend to allow your worst nature to take the place of everything you’ve work for, fought for, practiced, learned, overcome, risen above and deep down know is right and good and just and godly?
What’s an addict to his emotions — years in recovery — to do? Lose it all on a bad night, or two, or ten?
Will you let all that soul-work slip away?
Are moments like these not why we practice?
Why we work, pray, volunteer, donate, meditate, go to therapy, help friends in need?
Go to yoga, write in a journal, engage in random acts of kindness?
Are trials like these not why we do all that we do — to face hardship down, to rise higher, to not let foulness change us — and change us for worse, into mongers of hatred, because we are not those things and refuse to become them?
A moment like this — tragedy, murder, outrage — is unpredictable.
But damn well predict it will happen again.
And worse. And more outrageous. More murderous. More tragic than is now conceivable.
So you can start to practice for your response to it.
Like being bigger. Standing taller. Speaking better than your small self. Being wiser then than you are now. Not becoming a hate-puppet. Refusing to be swept into a fever of “us against them.” Because the bad guys want that. Bad guys have always wanted that. White, brown, Christian, or otherwise — 2015, and earlier, and earlier.
Giving yourself to that foolery is making yourself a bad guy, too.
In conclusion, Dave, yes. I’m telling you to be better.
Not “better than” anyone else. Just better than you, yesterday.
Better than who you were at 24. Better than what you were at 15. Better than the last lifetime, for goodness sake. And however many came before it.
Be better. Be stronger. Because you expect it of yourself.
Keep moving forward.
And do your damnedest to help others along that way, should they choose it, if only by quiet example, by embodying who and what you believe you are — by actually living it.
You can still honor the animal within by letting yourself be that, by standing strong for the Divine Self within — the one you are meant to fully realize in this lifetime.