Over the last decade natural and man-made disasters that formerly were considered unimaginable have become commonplace. And 2023 has been a terrible year indeed, an annus horribilis of such brutality, indifference and injustice the hypothetical nature of my question has become actualized: How do we live normal, decent lives amid unrelenting chaos? How do we open our hearts with love for our fellow man when the world around us is on the brink of madness?
Regretfully, the desperate need for a path to a future with optimism and belief in humanity’s innate goodness, has not made itself apparent. The chilling headlines from previous years have been replaced with equally horrific banners; if anything, the darkness has become more opaque. And sadly, so much of what I have written in the past, is pertinent today.
I will spare you the paragraph that lists the carnage. Suffice it to point to October 7 and the continuing carnage in Gaza. And the polarizing, hateful rhetoric from a repugnant political pulpit that refers to a desolate and despairing populace as poisonous vermin.
In the midst of this murderous climate, where does one find the Love and Light that I so blithely refer to in my Updates and emails and personal notes! My answer is found in the miracle of being a sentient human being; in being conscious – basic good resides within and exists in all of us.
The concept of basic good is immutable. For humanity, for our planet, there is no other choice. As for those who commit the atrocities and acts of monstrous cruelty, they take the space of darkness so we can see and embrace the contrasting light.
We are consciousness. We come from consciousness. We will return to consciousness. But what would the blessing of our awareness be without belief in the basic good that underlies the extraordinary quality that distinguishes sentient life from mute emptiness?
In the rem sleep of our deepest quietude we face the eternal questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Thinking and logic may provide direction, and we have the inner wisdom that guides us on the path. It is a case where the heart supersedes the mind.
We must look into our hearts and find tolerance and compassion to achieve the amity we seek, in relationships, and for our very existence as a peaceful society. This is not hyperbole. I often do an exercise with my clients leading them to an exploration of the heart. I ask them to literally visualize going into the heart and telling me what they see, sense and feel. For some there is blocked emotion to work through, but the description is the same: “warm, nurturing, safe and peaceful.”
Within all of us, the heart is the source of unconditional love; the core of who we are; the home of our basic goodness.
I choose to live with that belief. To do otherwise would be unbearable.
With Love and Light,
Arlene Englander, LCSW