There has been a lot of talk lately about the shooting in the Colorado movie theater, a lot of talk about the shooter, a lot of talk about what should happen to him in a state that allows the death penalty.
In a discussion group last week, we talked about righteous anger and justice. Here are some thoughts about that.
Lesson 181 in A Course in Miracles says
We enter in the time of practicing with one intent; to look upon the sinlessness within.
We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form. And if a brother's sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our "sins." So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds to change their focus, as we say:
It is not this that I would look upon.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me.
Another passage from A Course in Miracles states, “Our only calling is to deny guilt in all forms.... To accuse is not to understand.” Failure to learn needs teaching, not attack.
Here is one more passage, this time from the Tao Te Ching.
Therefore when the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is kindness.
When kindness is lost, there is justice.
When justice is lost, there is ritual.
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion.
You can see that justice is pretty far down the list!
All of this says to me that my judgment of someone, even if it is righteous judgment, serves only to perpetuate a reality that will loop forever in a cycle of fear and blame and vengeance.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 says
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
I think from all these passages, we learn that our highest calling, really our only calling, is to love each other, to see everyone as a perfect child of God. Only that will dispel the illusion we have created of separation and sin.
When I read about the shooting in Colorado, I think that my challenge is to find compassion in my heart for all, not only the victims and their families, but also for the shooter and his family, and for all of us who sit in judgment. All of us deserve all our love, without reservation.
Buddha said, “Hate never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”
Such love is not only possible, it is inevitable. All of us will achieve it. It is our destiny, our way home.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. –Matthew 5:7
related posts: From the Ashes; Righteous Unforgiveness; Practicing Compassion
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Friday, July 27, 2012
If I Don't Have Love
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This is a timely and wise reflection, Galen. Indeed, blessed are the merciful and whose hearts know love, not hatred or judgment. I know this post will truly make everyone who reads it stop and think. And, pray . . .ReplyDelete
Blessings, my friend!
Martha, It is a challenge to love those who seem so unlike us, so "other." Who do things that are so hateful and hurtful. And yet, I believe that this is exactly what we are called to do. Not so easy. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I feel for all the victims and those who love them, oh yes I do, but the shooter's mother holds a special place in my heart. She's lost her son as well, for he is truly lost to her now, if not before...and she has to live with the terrible knowing of what he did.ReplyDelete
Knowing. Wondering. Questioning. Regretting.
Susan, Yes, the shooter's mother must be in such anguish now. How kind of you to think of her. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Yes! Our calling is to dispel the illusion of separation and sin, to see everyone as a perfect child of God. Everyone. In Every instance, not just in some. What a beautiful and important post. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Teresa, Yes, everyone in every instance. In my discussion group earlier this month, this is just what we talked about. Thanks for commenting.Delete
When I first saw this on the news.....it broke my heart....both for the shooter, his family....and all the many, many victims of this useless act of violence. Sometimes I think "Our Creator" is looking down and frowning on us!!!! Often, we are a real disappointment.ReplyDelete
got this off my chest.....thank you.
Jo, Personally, I don't think Our Creator ever frowns on us or is disappointed. A heart broken open with compassion knows only love. Even so, I understand your feelings and I am glad you shared them here. Thank you for commenting.Delete
I do not want justice for the victims because I am angry. I want justice for the victims because we do not live in a society that allows someone to walked in a theater and open fire on innocent men, women and children. I do not place judgement on the shooter that is between him and his maker. I do however place judgement on his actions... he carried out an action that deserves punishment, it just so happens that he did this horrific act in a State that hands down the death penalty. It says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;ReplyDelete
Amy, I understand what you are saying about the legal system judging action. When a man went into an Amish school and shot 10 young girls, killing 5 of them, people were amazed at the outpouring of forgiveness and compassion from the Amish community. As one person described it, the Amish would have supported whatever consequence the legal system imposed on him...and then gone to visit him in prison. There are consequences for our actions, legal and otherwise. My challenge, as you said, is to not judge someone in my heart, to keep my heart open with compassion for everyone. Thanks for your comment.Delete
This is a very thought provoking post.
While my heart goes out to the victims in Colorado I don't blame the shooter. He is obviously mentally ill. He will have to deal with the consequences of his actions in our legal system - and that is as it should be.
I feel strongly that we need to change the focus in our culture from one of fear to one of love and compassion.
The "mean world" syndrome is perpetuated by fear. When people go out and buy more guns so they can "be the one who shoots first" it is coming from a place of fear.
The more we allow fear to dictate our actions the more of a violent society we will become.
We need to keep love in our hearts and be compassionate toward all. Love can and does surmount fear when we choose to allow it.
Angela, I so agree with what you said about changing the focus in our culture from fear to compassion. Einstein said that one of the most important decisions we make is whether to view the world as hostile or friendly. Changing the world starts with changing our perception of it. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Galen my friend you hit a HOME RUN with me!!!!ReplyDelete
You bring up terrific points here - your post is loaded with LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE - I have often stated that this is my religion....
I love this about your post: Buddha said, “Hate never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”
Love certainly is not our destiny but our home - You sparked something in me - I often in my past would stop and say "my GOD, have mercy on my soul".... I stopped saying that a while back and it's time to bring this back to my lips.....
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. –Matthew 5:7
No judgement only LOVE for in thinking of this act of anger and violence the first thing that came to my mind is LOVE was lacking....
Living in the abundance of love,
Nancy, I love your view of life! And I agree that when something tragic happens like this shooting, love is lacking. We can add to the lack with judgment, or shift the balance by adding compassion instead. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Very beautiful messages, Galen. Messages worth holding close to the heart. It is so easy to judge others and so hard to gauge the pain.ReplyDelete
I go with a full heart. Love you. Hugs!
Vidya, A full heart indeed! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Your post and words are very comforting and helpful. For me I have so many thoughts on this, and yet who am I to judge or even begin to understand. All I know is what happened, as far as the media has allowed. What I do know, having had a few experiences with two very dear people in my life and the troubles they encountered and the horrible (not as horrible, but bad)things that they found themselves in, (and so many people around them ready to give up on them) luckily they came to life again in a world without drugs that tore them away from common sense and good will, and still through it all, even as we offer tough love, we still love them, and see them through the darkness, hoping they will discover the light. They knew not what they did,when under other influences, but still had to pay for their wrongs. But there was and still is a good and kind heart within them, and it thankfully lives on today, and they are proof and the finest of examples for others that have lost their way.ReplyDelete
Karen, Thank you for sharing the stories of your friends. I, too, had a friend who got lost for a while in drugs. I thought she was going to die. But she hit bottom and decided she wanted to live. She went on to lead a very productive and successful life. You never know. All we can do is offer compassion and love. Thanks for your comment.Delete
As the mother of 2 very troubled sons I have much compassion and love for the mother of this man who did a terrible act. I am sad for him that his mind went awry, I believe that there is more to this than a random act of violence. I; of course, was not touched personally, no family members injured or killed. I don't think I would be so open if that had been the case. I just know what it is like to watch a child lose himself in delusions.ReplyDelete
jan, My heart goes out to you. As parents, we are sometimes quick to judge ourselves for our children's challenges. And we sometimes judge other parents for their children's challenges, hoping, I think, that by doing so, we can somehow escape a similar situation in our own families. As I quoted in my last post, having children is like having your heart walking around outside your body. Thank you for sharing your own perspective.Delete
Galen: Good job. It offsets the tone of my latest post. Frustration is a human frailty.ReplyDelete
JJ, Frustration and despair are understandable. It doesn't make us frail. It makes us human. What do we do with our heart's pain and sorrow? How do we find peace and compassion and redemption in what seems to be such senseless tragedy? I laughed but totally understood Ken Kesey when he answered an interviewer's question about what he was doing to make the world a better place. "This year I'm growing asparagus." Thanks for commenting.Delete
Beautifully said Galen. I'm so in agreement with Angela here, we need to choose love over fear...ReplyDelete
Elle, Yes, Angela made the choice very clear. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I finished reading "Defending Jacob" a few days before the shooting and it prompted many thoughts and questions about this very real issue. My heart goes out to the parents of this obviously disturbed young man. Unfortunately, they too will be prosecuted by a society anxious to access blame. This will be debated but cannot be explained. I will say a prayer for all of the victims,their families, the accused and his parents as I turn off the t.v. coverage and watch the Olympics.ReplyDelete
Suzanne, I don't know that book, but I'll check it out. You are right. We judge parents for the transgressions of their children, hoping that we can distance ourselves from them, seeing them as not like us, believing that we are "better" parents and will produce "better" children. A friend of mine with a severely autistic son told me once that she thought she made other parents more grateful because when they saw her son, they were grateful that their kids weren't so devastatingly disabled. I was shocked when she said that, partly because it was true. Even as the parent of two autistic sons, I am ashamed to say I had harbored gratitude that they were not so severely affected. In my more compassionate moments, I see that all children are our children. Whether we are parents or not, we can open our hearts to embrace a parents' pain and sorrow over the troubles of a child, just as we so readily embrace parents who grieve over the loss of a child. Thanks for commenting. And yes--let's enjoy the games!Delete
I struggled for days over whether to write about some aspect of this news story and gave up when I got busy with more important things. This is far better than any approach to it I had contemplated. Since we already live individually under a capital sentence (nobody gets out alive), executions seem philosophically redundant to me, even for willful murderers. The more info that comes out, the more it appears that paranoid schizophrenia may be part of the picture. Do we now kill people with bad brain chemistry and call it just? So that leaves the problem of under-regulated killing technology, which I wrote about after the Arizona event that included Rep. Giffords. It's too easy to amass a personal arsenal, high-capacity magazines and body armor. That can be changed. It takes the courage to change it, which legislators appear not to have. So we must change ourselves. It always seems to lead back to that.ReplyDelete
Mikey, I started and gave up several times, so I appreciate your kind words. This is a hard topic and I probably would not have written about it except that we had such a good discussion about it in my 10 Steps group, so it was on my mind. It does always seem to lead back to changing ourselves, just as you say. Thanks for your insightful addition to the discussion.Delete
This was a very insightful post, and we do need to have love for all of God's children. I think this tragedy has really hit us all hard. It is so sad. the really hard part is to have a forgiving heart. For the loved ones this is a hard one. I Feel sad for his parents. To me he is very troubled and we don't know what his life has been like. On the other hand justice needs to be served. This is one for the justice system. Thank heavens we are not the final judge. My prayers go out for the families. I loved your thoughts and scriptures.ReplyDelete
LeAnn, It is easy to have compassion for innocents who are hurt. Where our spiritual rubber meets the road is when we draw back from someone we see as undeserving of mercy. And yet, forgiving is exactly what we are called upon to do. Like the sun that shines so generously on the just and the unjust alike, we are asked to love our enemies and to forgive those who persecute us. Thanks for your comment and your kind words.Delete
Truly a post to cause one pause to reflect on their outlook on everything. Wonderful post, although the prompt behind the post is saddening.ReplyDelete
Mary, When our hearts are broken in sorrow, we have an opportunity to let love flow through our pain. Thank you for commenting.Delete
My first thoughts were of this young man and what had gone so incredibly wrong with him. It seemed as if a switch was flicked and his dark side came to the fore. It got me thinking of how easy it might be for anyone of us to have such a switch flicked on in our minds too - if we are not aware of ourselves and our motives. We must bear the guilt of collective darkness too, Galen - our fascination with dark fictional characters like the Joker, our need to have weapons so easily at our disposal, our inability to reach out to others who might be similarly troubled.ReplyDelete
It is easy to ask for justice - and justice will come, not just in a prison sentence or death, but in living with the guilt too, which is harder always. I pray for the victims and their families as I pray for this young man and his. Thank you, Galen for writing this beautiful post.
Corinne, Our collective darkness. That is it, isn't it? I tried one time to think of something I could judge someone for that I shared no blame in. I couldn't think of anything. While it's true that I have not walked into a theater and shot anyone, I have been fascinated, as you say, with dark fictional characters. And I'm sure I have participated through my buying and investment choices or through my voting choices in some injustice somewhere in the world. Perhaps my choices have even caused someone's death. I can't be sure. I so appreciate your acknowledgment of our connection to each other. We can contribute to that unity by adding light or adding darkness. Thanks for your comment and for your kind words.Delete
I have so much compassion for his family. I have compassion him as I believe he is very ill. I have real heartbreak when I think of the families who lost loved ones. I can't balance it out or rate it on a scale. Love one another? Always. Forgive? Seventy times seven. Judge? That's the hard one. Try not to but the human part of me jumps in there with anger and judgement all too often.ReplyDelete
Sandra, You are right about the human part. That's who we are. But when we can transcend our individual egos to the sacred place where we are all united, then the judgment fades away. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I totally agree with your thoughts Galen, but it can be extremely difficult to see beyond the horror. I always try to think why something like this happened instead of judging the pseon who did it. Who I am to judge really? Is it my purpose on Earth to judge? Or is it to Love?ReplyDelete
I opted for Love as it is the only value that can change the world.
Have a peaceful break Galen. Stay well.
Marie, We often look for an answer, hoping that an answer will somehow make us feel safer. The answer is always, I think, found in a mistaken perception that we are separated from love (or from God). Love is indeed the only thing that can bring real change. Thanks for commenting. (I did have a nice break--thanks.)Delete
I've just been doing some catch up reading on your blog. How wonderfully insightful and positive you are. Such a perfect place for encouragement! Hope you have a wonderful time 'fishing'!ReplyDelete
Pam, What a lovely comment to come home to! Thank you for the kind words.Delete
Hello, Galen. I think anger has its purpose, although compassion also has its own purposes. Anger is saying, something wrong has been done, somebody's been hurt. Compassion on the other hand is saying, we choose to forgive and to understand. We choose to learn from what happened, to move on from there, and to live better lives.ReplyDelete
Joyce, I understand what you are saying about anger. There are many ways to look at it. If anger is saying something wrong has been done, that by definition brings in judgment and needs forgiveness. What if there is a way to look at it that judges nothing as wrong, but sees everything in terms of connection and separation, in terms of love and the mistaken perception of separation from love? Then there is no need to forgive. Just another way to think about it. Thanks for commenting.Delete