Years ago, I read a story about Thich Nhat Hanh riding in a small boat. He was a passenger along with a man who had raped a young girl. Thay was on this boat with the rapist and, by some cruel twist of fate, the young girl as well. He shared that he was actively practicing compassion for everyone in the boat. He couldn’t feel love for only the girl – one is not more deserving of love than another. In the story, he wrote, that he could see himself in the rapist. That he was both the rapist and the girl. At the time, it was a struggle for me to understand what he was saying. How could Thay identify with the rapist? What did that mean exactly? I was confused, but the story has stayed with me all these years.
“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” -Yogi Bhajan
I have been at a complete loss for words after hearing about a black man (any man, any human) getting choked to death by a white police officer. I can’t watch the video. It makes me sick. I want to distance myself from the man who killed Eric Garner. My heart breaks that I live in a world where humans kill each other. There is a part of me that is ready to leave this planet. Beam me up. My bags are packed. What the hell are we doing? I want to point the finger. Blame others. I feel powerless and angry. I am tired. I don’t want to offer a hand, or a compassionate heart.
I want to open my throat and, with a lioness roar, make a sound so loud that all guns shatter into a million pieces. I want my tears to replenish the oceans and rivers so there is no more drought. I want to wrap my arms around the earth in a healing embrace. I want to personally apologize to each animal and plant that we are driving to extinction. I want to lay my head down and go to sleep so I don’t have to hear about fracking and GMOs and human violence.
But instead, I look within and I know something about myself. I am the police officer, so angry, in need of control, that I kill. I am the human enjoying my white privilege in the United States. I am the wounded soul that hurts others out of fear. I need to recognize that in myself, so that I can heal it and seek to empathize with others, and be a better ally. My silence comes from shame or confusion or sorrow, or all three. Our silence doesn’t help the situation, it enables it to perpetuate.
I don’t know what (if anything) is going to turn us around as a human race. But my heart tells me this: Love is the answer. At Stevie Wonder’s concert last week he asked all of us to keep trying to love one another. A black man who is blind, Stevie keeps spreading his message of love and unity. He says this of love: “If it’s magic, why can’t we make it everlasting? There’s enough for everyone.”
When one suffers we all suffer. We are ALL connected. We can only evolve as much as the very last person in the evolutionary line.
“This world was made for all men. All people, all babies, all children, all colors, all races, this world, my world, your world, our world, this world was made for all men” -Stevie Wonder