Monday, May 16, 2011
"The unexamined life is not worth living"~ Socrates
I got the idea for my blog today from another friend who posted the above quote. He then went on to ask what everyone thought the quote meant, and whether we agreed with it, and if so, how we implemented it in our lives.
This is my response:
Saturday, May 7, 2011
In these past days, I have watched as friends discuss the recent world events. I have witnessed dissension and miscommunication and experienced it first hand. Fortunately, I have also witnessed a coming together of like minded souls who believe that the only way to peace is to love one another. As you know, that is my own sentiment.
I don't believe violence and war is the answer. I guess that makes me a tree-hugging hippy freak to some. I have been told that I am delusional; that I must be realistic, and that all my preaching on peace and love isn't going to change the world; that war and violence is a necessary part of our existence. I've been told that I am a sympathizer of terrorists, and un American, ..that one really hurt; simply because I didn't set off fireworks over the killing of Osama Bin Laden. To actually have to defend my position as someone who believes in peaceful resolution as an alternative to violence seems so silly to me, for regardless of which religion we choose to practice, or even if we choose not to practice any religion but simply live a moral life...isn't one of the basic moral laws not to do harm to one another? I am pretty sure I read that sentiment in some form in some of the religious texts I have read which have included but are not exclusive to the Bible, The Qur'an, The Torah, The Tao Te Ching, and the Bhagavad Gita.
I, like everyone else, cried on 9/11. I cry whenever an act of violence happens, anywhere, to anyone. I ran over a bird the other day and I cried. It sucks sometimes to have this kind of compassion, I feel like a weirdo; even though I know I am not the only one who feels this way, sometimes I feel alone.
I know my one voice, and this blog alone isn't likely to change the world. Others before me with a greater presence and voice have tried, failed, and in some instances been killed for their message; Jesus, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and others come to mind.
I have sympathy and compassion for those who have lost their loved ones in an act of violence. I am blessedly fortunate that my own loved ones have not been taken from me in that way...and as someone asked me, "What if it were your children killed"..to that I have no answer, as I cannot predict my feelings. I am sure I will be angry, I am sure I will feel some urge to extract vengeance in some way, but I am also pretty sure I will think the thoughts and then let them go because I do not want to become that which I hate in another. I don't judge others who don't choose to prescribe to my peace message; I only speak for myself, and everyone has their own path to take. I simply ask that you respect me, and each other, along the way.
I know it's difficult. It's difficult for me. Everyone has suffering in their life. Everyone has someone or something in their life that causes them pain. I am not exempt. But I do my best to live by a few of these words, spoken by others who would probably be labeled delusional, unrealistic, hippy freaks. With their words and vision along for the ride, I think I am in good company.
"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."~ Jesus
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." ~Jesus
Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can." ~
Dalai Lama XI
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
"When you know better you do better."
Please carefully observe the two pictures above. What do you see? Do they look the same? The bottom picture is obviously of Osama Bin Laden, the figurehead of an extremist sect of Muslim that is not representative of all Muslims, not by a long shot. The top picture, however, is of a traditional Sikh Cleric..NOT a terrorist or member of any radical fringe of any religions denomination. And yet how many of us cannot tell the two apart?
After 9/11, the crimes committed against Muslims increased here in the US, even though most of the Muslim community decried and condemned the actions of the Taliban. I remember in the days after the attacks, one of my friends whose children are half Egyptian and being raised in the Muslim faith, experienced the heartbreak of discrimination because her eight year old son had been beaten up over his nationality and religion. I am sure all of us know a similar tale. My own children came home from school one day to tell me how "All Muslims are bad", despite being raised in a very liberal and tolerant family. I quickly reminded them about their friends, Amina and Gabriel,(the child of my friend who had been beaten up in school) , who they had played with since birth, and who are Muslim.
Sikhs in particular experienced a significant amount of discrimination and violence. The ignorant soul sees a turban, known as a Dastar in Sikhism, and makes the automatic assumptions that Sikhs must be terrorists. Judged and found guilty simply for looking like Osama Bin Laden. This is very sad as the Sikhs are one of the most peace loving and God-centered faiths of all. I have many Sikh friends who I love dearly, and I would hate it if any of them were treated violently because of someone's lack of education and understanding.
The fact is, we as a collective humanity need to stop judging a book by its cover. Until we look beyond the outside and look within ourselves and each other, hatred will not cease. In this age of technology, it is simple to research anything under the sun that you want to know about. There is simply no excuse for making assumptions anymore about people and their religious or ethnic origins and customs. To not do so is to do yourself a huge disservice, and a disservice to others around you.
So here are some links to get you started. Click the links and enter the No Judgment Zone. The world will be a better place if you do.
There are many more sites, but you get the idea. Peace. ☼
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix
Monday, May 2, 2011
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Like everyone else last night, I was glued to every available bit of technology in order to find out what the big announcement from the President was. However, unlike a lot of people, when I heard the news I did not clap my hands with joy, cheer loudly, or take to the streets. Nor did I make statements like "Good for him, he got what was coming to him the rotten piece of shit". Instead, I felt terribly sad. Sad for all of the lives that have been lost due to ignorance and intolerance. Sad that history has taught us nothing and we still perpetuate the cycle of hatred, and pass that legacy onto our children.
Have you ever watched children playing? It is the most amazing thing. You see, they are color blind. They know nothing of different races and religions. They are immune to the prejudices and intolerance that the adults surrounding them fill their minds and hearts with. Children see only with their heart's eyes. They will sit and play for hours with their friend, and the only time they fight is if someone throws sand in their eyes, or takes a toy. With some gentle guidance from the parents nearby, they get over their fight and are soon running hand in hand through the playground.
In the Tower of Babel story from the Bible, at one time we were all of one mind, one language. We attempted to build a tower to the heavens in order to see God. That was the beginning of our confusion; the day we lost our sight. For God dwells not beyond us, but within us. We are now jumbled and unable to listen to one another, nor are we able to share a God, a parcel of land, or space in the sandbox of life. We continue to throw sand at one another, never once seeing one another as fellow human beings, all of whom birth, live, shit, puke, cry, laugh, and die. Why did this happen? When did we stop valuing one another; stop seeing the God that lives within us all? When did it become acceptable to laugh at another human being's death?
I agree that justice needs to be dealt when someone commits the crimes Bin Laden is guilty of. But to celebrate it just gives more energy to hatred in the world; it grows bigger, and our distance between one another grows infinitely larger. Instead of cheering and celebrating the death of a misguided fool, take a moment to think about all of the lives lost because of our inability to accept one another for who we are, and embrace our differences. Think of the innocent children who are somewhere in the Middle East, or in Manhattan, or in your own backyard playing in a playground that gets blown to bits because of someone else's hatred. Is war really the answer?
Hatred is taught. If you do anything else for your children, please stop the cycle of ignorance and intolerance. Let them play in the sandbox and keep those blinders on; let them see people from the inside out, and learn about different cultures and people around them. And please, oh please, do not teach them that killing is something to be celebrated, not in the name of God, nor the name of Justice. Killing may be necessary, but it is never anything but sad.
Peace is the highest value. If the peace has been shattered how can he be content? His enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. He doesn't wish them personal harm. Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men? He enters a battle gravely, with sorrow and with great compassion. ~Tao Te Ching