The horrific events of the past weeks – and of the past few years and of the past centuries – cannot be ignored. These crimes against humanity were not random events; they were choices by people who came from a place of evil.
November is the month we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, when we share with friends and family our gratitude for the bounty we enjoy. As Americans, we certainly have a great deal for which to be grateful. Not the least of which is for the foundation on which our democracy relies, our freedom of choice.
Having the power to exercise choice is a blessing. Having options to choose from among many alternatives is central to one’s identity and daily life. Choice sets us free; otherwise we would be enslaved to doctrine or despot.
As a species we have evolved from our Neanderthal beginnings when the single objective of the reptilian brain was to inundate us with fear to survive a hostile environment. Today we live in a different world. In place of mindless compulsion there is Consciousness, an awareness of a core morality and sense of right and wrong, the sense of a Universal presence that embraces a spiritual Self that transcends the material world.
Last week my husband and I had the good fortune to attend a workshop led by Matthew Fox*, coincidentally on the same day as the massacre in the Pittsburgh synagogue. It was helpful to hear him reply to the horrific event with a reminder and a reaction. To him, the opposite of Evil is the Sacred. If each of us develop and live by the humanistic values shared by all spiritual traditions, then evil acts are eliminated.
Last month, I wrote about consciousness, our true Self; that inner space where we draw upon our reservoir of ideals and values. Our authentic Self is not our reaction to whatever we are feeling in the moment. Instead it is a synthesis of our physical and divine natures. We process the emotion, look at it, learn from it and only then do we act. When we learn to detach, delay our reaction, and use our minds objectively we make life happen for us rather than to us.
Those of you who have read my book, “The Insourcing Handbook”, may remember the acronym, “SOLID,” Stop, Observe, Listen, Integrate, Do.
This simple formula enables us to have a wider understanding of different possibilities resulting from our choice and to understand the outcomes, moral or pragmatic, selfish or altruistic, of each decision. The choices we make through life, determine who we are as individuals aspiring to the sacred or giving ourselves to the dark side.
November is also the month to vote. Be thankful for that opportunity for choice and please use it wisely. It is, in fact, a sacred act. Blessed with the good fortune of living in America it’s easy to forget that legions of men and women offered their lives to gain the right to cast a ballot and have their voice heard.
With love and light,
Arlene Englander, LCSW
*Matthew Fox is an internationally acclaimed spiritual theologian. He has devoted 45 years developing and teaching the traditions of Creation Spirituality, rooted in ancient Judeo-Christian teachings, world spiritual traditions and science. He is committed to eco-justice, social justice, and gender justice.