It’s been a difficult month for those of us who tend to feel hopeful and positive about the future. Throughout the latter part of the year distressing events seemed to multiply and pile up in my psyche like nightmares finding their way through the net of a beset dream catcher.
Could a child molester actually become a senator in the United States congress? Has the civilized world turned its face to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees? Is it possible to comprehend the murder of hundreds of men, women and innocent children praying in their place of worship? Would congress pass a tax bill that favors the wealthy and increases the gap between the haves and have-nots?
Cumulatively it can be more anxiety producing than the overwhelmed mind can tolerate. That is the state of the world. But it need not be a statement descriptive of who we are. We cannot change our environment overnight. We must acknowledge it and become a positive part of it.
I take heart in an axiom of life that has become increasingly clear as I grow older and my perspective widens, allowing me to see beyond the pressing immediacy of headline news. I have learned that the disturbing and cruel events that challenge me to sort out right from wrong… the insensitive people who offend me with their egregious ethical breaches… they are my most unforgettable teachers.
From observing their behavior I see an opportunity to actually grow in compassion and gain insight, even as the disturbing headlines and distasteful tweets that greet us every morning grow in number.
Blame the perpetrators and gnash your teeth in anger – we are human after all – then imagine the pain and ignorance that led them to behave in such a conspicuously offensive manner… and forgive them.
I don’t mean in a saint-like way; I’m not talking about wearing sandals and flowing robes and growing a white beard as your picture of forgiveness. I mean forgiveness that dislikes the strident, polarized arguments of the right and left but sees them as disorders that were learned, not inherent to who we are as a people.
Recognize injustice, prejudice and hate and the capacity for its shadowy existence existent in all of us. But know we are better than that, and shine your inner light on justice, tolerance and love. Embody the spirit of this season and act out of love not fear.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Prophet’s Birthday, Happy Holidays and Happy days.