the peace pilgrim

I never think of myself as protesting against something, but rather as witnessing for harmonious living. Those who witness for, present solutions. Those who witness against, usually do not– they dwell on what is wrong, resorting to judgment and criticism and sometimes even name-calling.

Peace Pilgrim

gently, gently

How fragile are you?

This is an important question for human beings to ask themselves, if they intend to move beyond the limitations to which they’ve been socialized.

How fragile are you?

So many of us want people to be gentle with their correction. We have normalized an idea that we perform better as humans when people are tender with us. Is that true? Or is it a symptom of the normalization of trauma?

How fragile are you?

Societies that have normalized violation and violence (same thing) create people who constantly feel violated and oppressed. This is to be expected, but it’s not the only kind of people created. Because societies are the larger culture and families are the smaller culture in which people are socialized, family culture can transmute the more harmful societal norms and keep people from internalizing them too deeply.

How fragile are you?

What did your family teach you about power? Did it teach you that other people have more of it than you? Did it teach you that everyone has power and it is possible to take the power of others? Did it teach you that power is shared? or that power is synonymous with capital? There are so many lessons that we learn about power and, simultaneously, powerlessness.

How fragile are you?

Here’s a tip: human beings are created to enter this world through a trip through a vagina. We are formed in the womb in a way that gives us the ability to shift and be squeezed through a hole that widens to a 10cm radius. Not 10 inches. 10cm.

How fragile are you?

Could you possibly be more fragile now than you were at birth?

Perhaps it’s time to stop nursing your fragility. Life is not gentle. Beautiful, yes. Gentle, no. Birth teaches us that. We can fall into alignment with life and be beautiful ourselves, but we won’t be gentle. Gentle is not the opposite of violation. Gentleness is completely subjective. It is a sensory experience and no one can predict how your senses operate.

When I ask you to be gentle with me, I am asking you to prioritize your assumption about how I will feel about something. There are times for this approach, but it’s always rooted in fear.

How fragile are you?

Only as fragile as you allow fear to convince you you are.

Here’s another tip: Being conditioned to weakness does not make you fragile or requiring of gentleness. Strength is not a fact; strength is a perception.

photo courtesy of Lubo Minar on unsplash

craze(d)

Many of us spend a lot of time trying to understand crazy.

I’m talking about true crazy, not fun crazy. I’m not using crazy as a synonym for amazing or even incomprehensible (because sometimes we call things crazy simply because we can’t understand them). I’m not talking about people with mental health issues.

I’m talking about crazy as in harmful. To me, that is true crazy. It is absolutely insane to go around harming folks and the planet on a regular basis. And, people who have an entire life agenda around harming others, whether rooted in trauma (of course it is) without a lot of thought or with intention, are an example of true crazy.

Why do we spend so much time and effort trying to understand them?

Why do we spend so much time and effort assuming we should be able to understand them?

Why do we spend so much time and effort assuming they can be understood?

To understand something, one uses the logical aspects of thinking. What is rational about trying to cause harm?

Nothing.

That’s what makes it crazy!

How much of your precious life has been spent trying to understand what is incomprehensible?

I think this mentality around understanding is why so many folks argue with people who hold fundamental differences of opinion about life.

We have many, many people on the planet who are working for human rights. All human beings are born with certain rights, as inhabitants of life on planet Earth, and not all of us recognize that. But, many of us do and those people work to help others recognize it.

And, explanations are fine with a person who truly doesn’t understand something. But, do we know the difference between a lack of comprehension and a lack of acceptance?

Most of what many of us try to educate around doesn’t work. Why? Because the person we are trying to educate does not accept that our premise is true. We tell ourselves that what we are dealing with is a lack of understanding. Sometimes, we go as far as to tell ourselves we’re dealing with a lack of empathy. Those are very prideful and egocentric views of disagreement.

We’re often just dealing with a lack of acceptance.

If a person rejects, or does not accept, your premise, how are you going to make any headway with that person? You’re not. You will just be locked in a battle, assuming you don’t know how to have enough consideration for that person to leave them alone.

Assuming that people are just too dumb to get your point is an impediment to getting your point across. And, that’s the message behind continuing to “explain” something to someone who disagrees with you.

A lack of understanding is not the foundation to disagreement; a lack of acceptance is.

And, here’s the major point, for those of us trying to lead sane lives: People don’t have to accept your ideas.

You have to accept your ideas. No one else. We have all been gifted with free will. We can all live exactly as we choose. We can say what we want. We can believe what we want.

Why does that sound so good to us until we meet someone whose living, words, and beliefs are reprehensible to us?

Of course, there are extremes to being out of agreement with one another. Mass exploitation, enslavement, genocide, any form of systemic oppression. I’m not saying it’s okay for those things to exist. I’m saying that the people who support those concepts are not doing so because they don’t understand your points about how bad they are. They support those concepts because they don’t accept your points about how bad they are.

In a few occasions in my life, I’ve had the opportunity to dissect a point with a person who disagreed with me. We would agree upon every, single small point leading up to the larger point and STILL disagree on the larger point. We agreed on the path, but disagreed on the destination. How did the same path lead us to different places?

That was so fascinating to me, that I could totally agree upon the nuances of a point with someone and still disagree on the larger point, that I started thinking more about how I view the concept of understanding.

I realized that I view understanding as a moral issue, not an act of rationale. But, understanding is not a moral issue. So, I had to rearrange my relationship with understanding.

I suggest we all really sit down with our relationship with the concept of understanding and see where we have misunderstood the concept. Because misunderstanding the concept of comprehension will only lead to misunderstanding our fellow human beings.

And, misunderstanding each other is where relationships (or the potential for relationships) fall apart.

At this point in my life, I no longer try to understand crazy. I no longer try to convince people of my points (unless both parties are enjoying a bit of verbal sparring…I love a good debate/argument). I no longer assume something is wrong with you because you have reached a different conclusion than I have.

We get to think our own ways. Who am I to tell you how you should think? Or believe? Or live? Or behave? If you are not my child, it is not my responsibility to educate you, unless you have requested my insight.

That’s also what blogs are for. I’ve stopped using the people in my environment and started using tools like blogging to share my unrequested thoughts about life. That’s just me trying to be considerate of those around me.

Certain things are crazy, if you ask me. It’s crazy to live a life of intentional (or unintentional) harm. But, another human being simply disagreeing with me about life is not inherently crazy.

It would be crazy for me to assume it was.

love is a given

What do you deserve?

Who is going to give it to you?

I grew up with those questions asked along materialistic lines. Lately, I’ve been asking myself those questions as they pertain to relationships.

Personally, I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in the form of relationships. The people who claim to care the most about me have, historically, been the most dangerous people in my life. At a certain point, something so traumatic happened to me that I chose to push the reset button on my life.

Since then, I have made dramatic changes and blossomed into a much happier version of myself. I have a lot to appreciate.

Many, many moons ago, I began asking myself what I deserved, because I felt so resentful. Resentment is often the result of not getting what feels one deserves. And, I was pretty justified in feeling resentment, but I didn’t want that feeling to define my existence.

Feeling a way that makes sense, given what you’ve been through, and choosing to not prioritize feeling that way, anymore, is a paradigm shift. And, paradigm shifts often feel painful and/or destabilizing. Because they are.

So many of us just become what we were programmed to be by the choices of others. If I look at what I was programmed to be, I see two, distinct potentials. I was programmed to be stereotypically successful in a capitalistic society. Meaning, I should be a highly paid professional right now. I had the grades and aptitude for it. But, I knew that wouldn’t make me happy. I was much more interested in justice and humanity than I was in power and control.

The other thing I was programmed to be is… broken. I was programmed to always put others first, no matter how much they abused me. I was programmed to feel ashamed of myself. I was programmed to follow the rules, even when they hurt me and others. I was programmed to accept much less while giving much more.

I was programmed for defeat.

So, how was I going to be successful and defeated? I wasn’t, unless I underwent a serious bout of narcissism. You have to develop a personality disorder to become successful materially while being broken emotionally.

Instead, I chose to live as human a life as possible. I didn’t know what I was doing, because I wasn’t raised around or by people who prioritized their humanity. But, I just kept moving in the direction that felt true for me.

I did a pretty decent job considering I didn’t know how to have healthy relationships. And, at the foundation of all human dignity is healthy relationship. Relationship with others, relationship with self, relationship with the natural world.

When I pushed the reset button on my life, I began to focus upon relationships. As a result, I gained a lot of clarity around how dysfunctional most of the people in my life were, how dysfunctional I was. Clearing up that dysfunction has been the primary focus of the past decade of my life.

I’m doing a pretty decent job considering there are so many dysfunctional people to choose from.

Since I’m highly analytical, I’ve been reading about and watching non-dysfunctional people. I’ve been studying how non-dysfunctional people make decisions and choose relationships. I’ve been understanding dysfunction in a new way. I’ve been accepting that it’s truly challenging to be non-dysfunctional in a dysfunctional society.

But, it’s definitely possible.

The more I grappled with dysfunction, the more I grappled with trauma. The more I grappled with trauma, the more I grappled with empathy. The more I grappled with empathy, the more I grappled with compassion. The more I grappled with compassion, the more I grappled with fear. The more I grappled with fear, the more I grappled with my understanding of love.

I realized that we, as a modern society, understand very little about love.

I have moved from focusing upon dysfunction and healing to focusing upon embodying love. What does that look like? When we say we love someone, what do we really mean?

I have found that the love of someone living from a traumatized mentality means very little, indeed. But the love of someone who embodies Self-love means just as little. That’s the paradox of love.

Love isn’t the thing. Love is the EVERYthing.

I think once we understand that, we start to realize that using love as an excuse to hold on when we need to let go is a lie. That’s not love. Love just is. Love has no parameters or expectations, it simply exists.

Because of that, love does not end.

Now, when I ask myself what I deserve, I think about love. “Is this the most loving version of this relationship?” If not, what do I want to do?

“Is this the most loving version of this moment?” If not, what do I want to do?

I have accepted that love doesn’t need to be given. It simply exists. So, when I ask myself what I deserve… it’s love. And, when I ask myself who is going to give it to me… it’s me. And, it’s life. And, no one needs to give it to me because it’s a given. What I’ve come to realize is that when I think I’m grappling with love, I’m really just grappling with the barriers to love.

And, sometimes, those barriers look like people. And, I choose not to grapple with people I love, anymore. If we cannot love without conflict or barriers, let us love outside of conflict and barriers.

I’ve accepted that that sometimes feels like a lack of love to the other person. But, truth is not reliant upon feelings. That’s part of the beauty of everything true.

(it is not) enough

Are you centered?

Are you grounded?

Do you know how to live a centered, grounded life?

Do you know how to become centered, grounded at will?

It is not enough to know things. Data. Scientific knowledge. These are nothing but tools. And, tools in the hands of a madman are weapons.

You were born with tools that are still relevant, regardless of what is going on in the world. You don’t need to rely upon the tools of (hu)mankind, because you have the tools of humanity.

The tools of humanity are:

radical love

curiosity

breath

movement

creativity

None of these tools can be turned against the possessor without the possessor’s permission. What we call the mind is truly curiosity. When thinking ceases being curious and remains constant in a particular direction outside of curiosity, the mind is now the mindless.

We use our creativity outside of curiosity combined with breath and radical love, and we create needless chaos.

Chaos often looks like rules. Rules that should be followed no matter what. Rules that have paradoxes built into them.

Many will tell you life, itself, is chaos. But, what evidence do we have of that? The acts of humankind are often chaotic, but humankind has moved outside of life. Humankind has sought, for many years, to control and manipulate life rather than be an example of life. That is chaos at its finest.

The idolatry of the human mind, of human thought, is the misuse of humanity’s tools and will always lead to more harm than benefit. We are not the epitome of life; therefore, our thinking is not the epitome of thought.

We idolize ourselves to our own peril.

Let us put down the tools of (hu)mankind. Those tools are:

righteousness

fear

comparison

polarity

condemnation

These are the tools (weapons) of an imperfect being striving for unattainable perfection. Radical love can assimilate any of those tools (weapons).

Because radical love is an inherently assimilating force and our human nature is radical love, we are always striving toward assimilation… even when we are allowing our humanity to be weaponized.

Assimilation is not the opposite of individualism. Assimilation as a result of radical love does not mean we all became the same. It simply means we all become one. And, since we are all one, anyway, radical love does not alter our status.

Radical love simply enhances what is already here.

Have you ever been in love with someone and they looked so very beautiful and attractive to you? But, when you were no longer in love with that person, you looked at them and wondered what you ever saw in them.

That is the power of radical love. It helps us to see the beauty all around us and enhances our powers of attraction. But, the attraction is only for everyone’s benefit. That is what healing is all about.

Radical love is the simplest antidote to idolatry.

Will you try it?

photo courtesy of Will O at unsplash