We are told that our motivations boil down to two basic opposites: love and fear.
I want us to take it deeper. I want to lean into fear. I believe that, if we can find enough courage to lean into what we consider darkness – anger, fear, hopelessness, lethargy – we will find, at the root of all emotion, a spark of love.
We see tragedy abounding in the world, and we feel it weighing on our hearts and minds. The media – “fake” and “real” alike – are touting sensationalized horror. We’re told to take sides, take action, have an opinion, fight for what we believe. We’re inundated with the illusion of separation by an onslaught of pro- and anti- everything and everyone, shown cruelty and injustice with the casual implication that it’s a systemic status quo, and continuously but subliminally shamed for these maladies to such a degree that we are blaming each other.
We are being force-fed fear and responding in kind.
So many of us – myself included, at times – equate taking a stand with acting out of love. We believe that to “fight for what’s right” means we are evolved, making a difference, or at the very least shirking off a system of oppression. I’ve been there. I’ve been at the protests, argued my morals, distanced myself from the whatever-ists that I deplore.
It didn’t feel like love, though. It felt like . . . like a good start, maybe. I felt angry, justified, visible, and alive – but I didn’t feel peaceful, loving, or satisfied. I felt hungry. Starving, even. I wanted more! More action! More separation from that which is wrong! More information! More! More! More!
And then one day, or maybe more slowly than that, it began to dawn on me. I was being manipulated by the very system I intended to revolutionize, in playing out the game of its orchestration. By picking a side, taking a stand, and fighting, I was staying in a place of anger, fear, and lack. I would never be satisfied, because it was a war that couldn’t be won – not like that, anyway. I would never know, do, fight, or say enough.
We are being pitted against each other, on purpose, because it serves the endless hunger for separation to which we have been unknowingly enslaved. Our food has been under lock and key for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to have enough, to go easy, and to feel satisfied. We’ve become so used to fear that we don’t even recognize it anymore.
What’s underneath all that fear? And how do we find it? As cliché as it sounds, it begins by turning off the fear-machine. Years ago, I said no thanks to the news. As hard as it was, I even had to tune out my most trusted conspiracy theory outlets. It’s all the same: it’s all the fear machine, subtly and aggressively keeping us hungry.
Once I tuned into myself, and my community, instead, I started to recognize love again. Love is what’s underneath my sadness. When I get angry at another school shooting, I lean into the anger. What’s beneath the fury? Sorrow at the violence and loss of life; empathy for those experiencing the despair of losing their sense of safety and for those who were so consumed by fear that they turned to violence. Beyond the sorrow, I find love for my fellow humans, and a deep craving to share that love.
Why do we come together in candlelight vigil? Why do we cry extra hard when someone hugs us? Because love offers us a way out of our pain – it gives us light to see through the darkness and to release the weight of it all. We always feel better when we follow that light, when we allow it in. To stay inside the darkness, to believe in its finality, is the true tragedy.
I say, lean into the anger. Lean into your fear, sadness, rage, and hopelessness. Find the courage to pull apart the threads of the black veil we’ve sewn over our hearts – stare the demons in the face and see how they change. See what lies under the initial emotion, and then ask yourself “what is motivating this?”
When you find the love, choose it. It’s not enough to know that love exists; we must choose to act upon it. We must make a daily practice out of love and allow it to inundate our experience to such a degree that true satisfaction is achieved. We do not need to be hungry! There is enough for everyone.
Start small, like I didn’t. I had to travel across the ocean to Haiti to try to solve the world’s problems before I realized that the solutions are inside each one of us. It’s all so, so messed up – how we “change things.” That’s not to say that there aren’t people and organizations out there choosing love; I am blessed enough to know a few. But, for the most part, anytime we try to change something or someone outside of ourselves, we are contributing to the fear-machine by perpetuating the illusion of hunger and lack.
Let us have faith in each other’s ability to choose and act out of love. Let us stop blaming each other for the state of the world and, instead, offer love and support to our fellow humans by taking real loving action. That person on FaceBook who never seems to catch a break? Buy them a new set of tires instead of donating to that political campaign you’re just sure is going to beat the guy you hate. Furious at the food industry for its decimation of the planet? Offer to spend a few hours helping your local farmer instead of going out to lunch. Sick and tired of gun violence in schools? Volunteer to mentor a child.
It’s that easy to choose love. It’s that obvious. We are not separate from each other. Laws aren’t going to change things. Corporations aren’t suddenly going to do the right thing, no matter how noble and touching their latest commercial.
Only love is real. Find it. Just fucking find it. And, when you do, make sure you choose it.